Friday, February 07, 2014

The Quote File: Gustave Flaubert

"It's a very baffling act, writing. Flaubert looked at the skies and spent three weeks trying to describe one. I mean, the sky exists anyhow; why should one want to put it down on paper?...It is as if the life lived has not been lived until it is set down in...words." – Edna O’Brien

Anything becomes interesting if you look at it long enough.

The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.

It is a delicious thing to write, to be no longer yourself but to move in an entire universe of your own creating. Today, for instance, as man and woman, both lover and mistress, I rode in a forest on an autumn afternoon under the yellow leaves, and I was also the horses, the leaves, the wind, the words my people uttered, even the red sun that made them almost close their love-drowned eyes.

It is so easy to chatter about the Beautiful. But it takes more genius to say, in proper style, “close the door,” or “he wanted to sleep,” than to give all the literature courses in the world.

Prose is like hair; it shines with combing. 
Artists who seek perfection in everything are those who cannot attain it in anything.

The author, in his work, must be like God in the Universe, present everywhere and visible nowhere.

Style is as much under the words as in the words. It is as much the soul as it is the flesh of a work.

One mustn't always believe that feeling is everything. In the arts, it is nothing without form.

Be regular and orderly in your life so that you may be violent and original in your work. 

Exuberance is better than taste.
The most glorious moments in your life are not the so-called days of success, but rather those days when out of dejection and despair you feel rise in you a challenge to life, and the promise of future accomplishments.
Success is a consequence and must not be a goal.

Nothing is more humiliating than to see idiots succeed in enterprises we have failed in.
The better a work is, the more it attracts criticism; it is like the fleas who rush to jump on white linens.
Judge the goodness of a book by the energy of the punches it has given you. I believe the greatest characteristic of genius, is, above all, force.

There is no truth. There is only perception.

Of all lies, art is the least untrue. 
To be stupid, selfish, and have good health are three requirements for happiness, though if stupidity is lacking, all is lost. 


  1. I really love quotes and these are gems! I think this is my favorite:

    The author, in his work, must be like God in the Universe, present everywhere and visible nowhere.

  2. These are wonderful, Cheryl. Well worth posting over one's desk.
    Thank you!