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190 Inspiring Quotes by Gustave Flaubert

Welcome to our collection of quotes by Gustave Flaubert.

Wikipedia Summary for Gustave Flaubert

Gustave Flaubert (UK: FLOH-bair, US: floh-BAIR, French: [ɡystav flobɛʁ]; 12 December 1821 – 8 May 1880) was a French novelist. Highly influential, he has been considered the leading exponent of literary realism in his country. According to the literary theorist Kornelije Kvas, "in Flaubert, realism strives for formal perfection, so the presentation of reality tends to be neutral, emphasizing the values and importance of style as an objective method of presenting reality".

He is known especially for his debut novel Madame Bovary (1857), his Correspondence, and his scrupulous devotion to his style and aesthetics. The celebrated short story writer Guy de Maupassant was a protégé of Flaubert. On the occasion of Flaubert's 198th birthday (12 December 2019), a group of researchers at CNRS published a neural language model under his name.

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Talent is a long patience, and originality an effort of will and intense observation.

--Gustave Flaubert


Arizona landscape

We must not touch our idols; the gilt sticks to our fingers.

--Gustave Flaubert

purple and black skies

One must always hope when one is desperate, and doubt when one hopes.

--Gustave Flaubert

four men sitting beside table

The more humanity advances, the more it is degraded.

--Gustave Flaubert



purple and black light illustration

Everything measurable passes, everything that can be counted has an end. Only three things are infinite: the sky in its stars, the sea in its drops of water, and the heart in its tears.

--Gustave Flaubert

black pug standing tiled floor

By trying to understand everything, everything makes me dream.

--Gustave Flaubert

stars across the sky view at the desert

Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live.

--Gustave Flaubert

black textile in close up photography

Everything depends on the value we give to things. We are the ones who make morality and virtue. The cannibal who eats his neighbor is as innocent as the child who sucks his barley-sugar.

--Gustave Flaubert


white satellite dish under starry night

A friend who dies, it's something of you who dies.

--Gustave Flaubert

sunset

Language is a cracked kettle on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, while all the time we long to move the stars to pity.

--Gustave Flaubert

landscape photography of waves and clouds

One never tires of what is well written, style is life! It is the very blood of thought!

--Gustave Flaubert

black bird flying under white clouds during daytime

The more you approach infinity, the deeper you penetrate terror.

--Gustave Flaubert



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In March 1853 she was afflicted with a pain in the chest; her tongue seemed to be covered with a film; leeches failed to make her breathing any easier.

--Gustave Flaubert

blue and black butterfly on pink and yellow flower

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

--Gustave Flaubert

red textile in close up photography

The sight of so many ruins destroys any desire to build shanties; all this ancient dust makes one indifferent to fame.

--Gustave Flaubert

None

One's duty is to feel what is great, cherish the beautiful, and not accept all the conventions of society with the ignominy that it imposes upon us.

--Gustave Flaubert

A white stripe pattern made up of concrete facade ribs

There are some men whose only mission among others is to act as intermediaries; one crosses them like bridges and keeps going.

--Gustave Flaubert

silhouette of flower during sunset

And she felt as though she had been there, on that bench, for an eternity. For an infinity of passion can be contained in one minute, like a crowd in a small space.

--Gustave Flaubert


group of people waving their hands

One can be the master of what one does, but never of what one feels.

--Gustave Flaubert

None

In my view, the novelist has no right to express his opinions on the things of this world. In creating, he must imitate God: do his job and then shut up.

--Gustave Flaubert

brown wooden board

I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within.

--Gustave Flaubert


white and pink plastic bottles

Speech is a rolling-mill that always thins out the sentiment.

--Gustave Flaubert

white wooden dock on white sand

You can calculate the worth of a man by the number of his enemies, and the importance of a work of art by the harm that is spoken of it.

--Gustave Flaubert

pair of white lace-up shoes

One must laugh and weep, love, work, enjoy and suffer, in short vibrate as much as possible in all his being.

--Gustave Flaubert

body of water surrounded with plants under cloudy sky

Nothing is more humiliating than to see idiots succeed in enterprises we have failed in.

--Gustave Flaubert

black pug

Talent is long patience.

--Gustave Flaubert


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His eagerness had turned into a routine; he embraced her at the same time every day. It was a habit like any other, a favourite pudding after the monotony of dinner.

--Gustave Flaubert

Hey! I miss you

Exuberance is better than taste.

--Gustave Flaubert

person wearing black top

Adultery ... could be as banal as marriage.

--Gustave Flaubert


woman in black tank top and gray leggings doing yoga

I laugh at everything, even at that which I love the most. There is no fact, thing, feeling or person over which I have not blithely run my clownishness, like an iron roller imparting sheen to cloth.

--Gustave Flaubert

concert photos

To be stupid and selfish and to have good health are the three requirements for happiness, though if stupidity is lacking, the others are useless.

--Gustave Flaubert

photo of brown parquet

Be steady and well-ordered in your life so that you can be fierce and original in your work.

--Gustave Flaubert

four men sitting beside table

Not a lawyer but carries within him the debris of a poet.

--Gustave Flaubert

leafless tree

And the country is like a great unfolded mantle with a green velvet cape bordered with a fringe of silver.

--Gustave Flaubert

The Muppets Kermit plush toy on gray sofa

By working one can bend fortune. She is fond of crafty men.

--Gustave Flaubert

green lizard

Poetry is a subject as precise as geometry.

--Gustave Flaubert


body of water

Thy chastity is but a more subtle form of corruption, and thy contempt of this world is but the impotence of thy hatred against it.

--Gustave Flaubert

None

The better a work is, the more it attracts criticism; it is like the fleas who rush to jump on white linens.

--Gustave Flaubert

photo of mountains

I was resting in the shadow of that ideal happiness as in the shade of the poisonous manchineel tree, without foreseeing the consequences.

--Gustave Flaubert

brown grass field during daytime

What a heavy oar the pen is, and what a strong current ideas are to row in!

--Gustave Flaubert

white desk lamp beside green plant

I have no use for the kind of God who goes walking in his garden with a stick, sends his friends to live in the bellies of whales, gives up the ghost with a groan and then comes back to life three days later!

--Gustave Flaubert

silhouette of mountain

The deplorable mania of doubt exhausts me. I doubt about everything, even my doubts.

--Gustave Flaubert

brown wooden board

Whatever the thing you wish to say, there is but one word to express it, but one verb to give it movement, but one adjective to qualify it; you must seek until you find this noun, this verb, this adjective.

--Gustave Flaubert

orange and white stone fragment

And the more he was irritated by her basic personality, the more he was drawn to her by a harsh, bestial sensuality, illusions of a moment, which ended in hate.

--Gustave Flaubert

white desk lamp beside green plant

"Has it ever happened to you," Léon went on, "to come across some vague idea of one's own in a book, some dim image that comes to you from afar, and as the completest expression of your own slightest sentiment?"

--Gustave Flaubert

red and white led lighted heart decor

My life which I dream will be so beautiful, so poetic, so vast, so filled with love will turn out to be like everybody else's -- monotonous, sensible, stupid.

--Gustave Flaubert

flying blue and green hummingbird

What an elder sees sitting; the young can't see standing.

--Gustave Flaubert

high-angle photography of beach side

"Doesn't it seem to you," asked Madame Bovary, "that the mind moves more freely in the presence of that boundless expanse, that the sight of it elevates the soul and gives rise to thoughts of the infinite and the ideal?"

--Gustave Flaubert

white Starbuck plastic cup on brown fabric armchair

Having no intercourse with anyone, she lived in the torpid state of a sleep-walker.

--Gustave Flaubert

lion on green grass during golden hour

Stupidity consists in wanting to reach conclusions. We are a thread, and we want to know the whole cloth.

--Gustave Flaubert

high-angle photography of beach side

Love, she thought, must come suddenly, with great outbursts and lightnings, -- a hurricane of the skies, which falls upon life, revolutionises it, roots up the will like a leaf, and sweeps the whole heart into the abyss.

--Gustave Flaubert

pink and white tulips on white surface

Charles went to kiss her shoulder.
-Leave me alone! she said, you're creasing my dress.

--Gustave Flaubert

body of water

What an awful thing life is, isn't it? It's like soup with lots of hairs floating on the surface. You have to eat it nevertheless.

--Gustave Flaubert


green ceramic mug beside book

The great natures which are good, are above everything generous and don't begrudge the giving of themselves.

--Gustave Flaubert


pink and blue painted wall

The whole dream of democracy is to raise the proletariat to the level of stupidity attained by the bourgeoisie.

--Gustave Flaubert

green plants beside brown wooden door

The true poet for me is a priest. As soon as he dons the cassock, he must leave his family.

--Gustave Flaubert


green leafed tree on body of water under starry sky

You must write for yourself, above all. That is your only hope of creating something beautiful.

--Gustave Flaubert

purple flowers under sunny sky

We must laugh and cry, enjoy and suffer, in a word, vibrate to our full capacity … I think that's what being really human means.

--Gustave Flaubert


black textile in close up photography

After a person dies, there is always something like a feeling of stupefaction, so difficult is it to comprehend this unexpected advent of nothingness and to resign oneself to believing it.

--Gustave Flaubert

gray concrete surface

One's existence should be in two parts: one should live like a bourgeois and think like a demigod.

--Gustave Flaubert

white ceramic mug with coffee on brown wooden table

The faster the word sticks to the thought, the more beautiful is the effect.

--Gustave Flaubert


two men sitting and one man standing near cliff taken during golden hour

As a rule we disbelieve all the facts and theories for which we have no use.

--Gustave Flaubert

closeup photo of bird beside purple petal flowers

The only way to avoid being unhappy is to close yourself up in Art and to count for nothing all the rest.

--Gustave Flaubert

leafless tree

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.

--Gustave Flaubert

gray hummingbird

The public wants work which flatters its illusions.

--Gustave Flaubert

green plants near body of water during daytime

Axiom: Hatred of the bourgeois is the beginning of wisdom.

--Gustave Flaubert

sunset highway

I have the handicap of being born with a special language to which I alone have the key.

--Gustave Flaubert

pink petaled flowers under trees at daytime

Everything one invents is true, you may be perfectly sure of that. Poetry is as precise as geometry.

--Gustave Flaubert

galaxy

And so I will take back up my poor life, so plain and so tranquil, where phrases are adventures and the only flowers I gather aremetaphors.

--Gustave Flaubert

green trees beside body of water during daytime

I detest my fellow-beings and do not feel that I am their fellow at all.

--Gustave Flaubert

green leafed plants on forest

But vilifying those we love always alienates us from them to a certain extent. Idols should not be touched: the gilding comes off on the hands.

--Gustave Flaubert


aerial shot of road surrounded by green trees

We swung between madness and suicide ... it was beautiful!

--Gustave Flaubert

green ceramic mug beside book

Be orderly and disciplined in daily life, like a good bourgeois, so that I might be wild and violent in my art.

--Gustave Flaubert

photo of brown parquet

Farming, a vocation accursed of heaven, since one never saw a millionaire involved in it.

--Gustave Flaubert

white and blue ice on water

On certain occasions art can shake very ordinary spirits, and whole worlds can be revealed by its clumsiest interpreters.

--Gustave Flaubert

closeup photo of sunflower

Writing is a dog's life, but the only life worth living.

--Gustave Flaubert




selective focus photo of iceberg on large body of water at winter

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

--Gustave Flaubert

two dragonflies on green cornate leaf

What is the beautiful, if not the impossible.

--Gustave Flaubert


rock formation surrounding by body of water

One arrives at style only with atrocious effort, with fanatical and devoted stubbornness.

--Gustave Flaubert



silhouette of pine trees photo

The artist must manage to make posterity believe that he never existed.

--Gustave Flaubert

people near body of water

Emma still had a joyless look, and, habitually, at the corners of her mouth, she had that tightness that crumples the faces of old maids and bankrupts.

--Gustave Flaubert

blue rose in close up photography

The one way of tolerating existence is to lose oneself in literature as in a perpetual orgy.

--Gustave Flaubert

tilt shift lens pink fetal flowers

Of all the icy blasts that blow on love, a request for money is the most chilling.

--Gustave Flaubert


pug lying on pet bed

The denigration of those we love always detaches us from them in some degree. Never touch your idols: the gilding will stick to your fingers.

--Gustave Flaubert

None

I love my work with a frenetic and perverse love, as an ascetic loves the hair shirt which scratches his belly.

--Gustave Flaubert


Arizona landscape

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

--Gustave Flaubert

Longer Version:

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


silhouette of tall trees

Love, to her, was something hat comes suddenly, like a blinding flash of lightening -- a heaven-sent storm hurled into life, uprooting it, sweeping every will before it like a leaf, engulfing all feelings.

--Gustave Flaubert






grayscale photography of pug

Women want you to deceive them: they force you to, and if you resist, they blame you.

--Gustave Flaubert

two blue beach chairs near body of water

Once one has kissed a cadaver's forehead, there always remains something of it on the lips, an infinite bitterness, an aftertasteof nothingness that nothing can erase.

--Gustave Flaubert

None

Caught up in life, you see it badly. You suffer from it or enjoy it too much. The artist, in my opinion, is a monstrosity, something outside of nature.

--Gustave Flaubert

silhouette of people riding bicycle

You'll always have to deal with bastards, being lied to, deceived, slandered and ridiculed, but that's to be expected and you must thank heaven when you meet the exception.

--Gustave Flaubert


concert photos

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.

--Gustave Flaubert


body of water under blue sky during daytime

There are neither good nor bad subjects. From the point of view of pure Art, you could almost establish it as an axiom that the subject is irrelevant, style itself being an absolute manner of seeing things.

--Gustave Flaubert



pink and green flower painting

But an infinity of passions can be contained in a minute, like a crowd in a tiny space.

--Gustave Flaubert

feet in sand

Read in order to live.

--Gustave Flaubert

green pine trees near mountain under blue sky during daytime

It is an excellent habit to look at things as so many symbols.

--Gustave Flaubert

sunset

He had carefully avoided her out of the natural cowardice that characterizes the stronger sex.

--Gustave Flaubert


mountain dew during sunrise

A superhuman will is needed in order to write, and I am only a man.

--Gustave Flaubert


green trees under white sky during daytime

Life must be a constant education; one must learn everything, from speaking to dying.

--Gustave Flaubert

leafless tree on body of water during daytime

Madame Aubain's servant Felicite was the envy of the ladies of Pont-l'Eveque for half a century.

--Gustave Flaubert

silhouette of person standing beside bare tree under stary sky

All one's inventions are true, you can be sure of that. Poetry is as exact a science as geometry.

--Gustave Flaubert

closeup photo of bird beside purple petal flowers

There are two infinities that confuse me: the one in my soul devours me; the one around me will crush me.

--Gustave Flaubert

white Starbuck plastic cup on brown fabric armchair

An infinity of passion can be contained in one minute, like a crowd in a small space.

--Gustave Flaubert


sunset

You can't find the soul with a scalpel.

--Gustave Flaubert



silhouette of man standing on hill during starry night

May I die like a dog rather than hasten the ripening of a sentence by a single second!

--Gustave Flaubert

mountains covered with fog

One day, I shall explode like an artillery shell and all my bits will be found on the writing table.

--Gustave Flaubert

brown butterfly perched on flower

The most important thing in the world is to hold your soul aloft.

--Gustave Flaubert



purple-petaled flowers

Emma was just like any other mistress; and the charm of novelty, falling down slowly like a dress, exposed only the eternal monotony of passion, always the same forms and the same language.

--Gustave Flaubert



black textile in close up photography

Haven't you ever happened to come across in a book some vague notion that you've had, some obscure idea that returns from afar and that seems to express completely your most subtle feelings?

--Gustave Flaubert

closeup photography of wall

But she--her life was cold as a garret whose dormer window looks on the north, and ennui, the silent spider, was weaving its web in the darkness in every corner of her heart.

--Gustave Flaubert


selective focus photo of iceberg on large body of water at winter

A good sentence in prose should be like a good line in poetry, unchangeable, as rhythmic, as sonorous.

--Gustave Flaubert



forest trees

Earth has its boundaries, but human stupidity is limitless.

--Gustave Flaubert

None

I go from exasperation to a state of collapse, then I recover and go from prostration to Fury, so that my average state is one of being annoyed.

--Gustave Flaubert

None

But the most wretched thing, is it not-is to drag out, as I do, a useless existence. If our pains were only of some use to someone, we should find consolation in the thought of the sacrifice.

--Gustave Flaubert

Arizona landscape

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

--Gustave Flaubert

Arizona landscape

Writing this book I am like a man playing the piano with lead balls attached to his knuckles.

--Gustave Flaubert

shallow focus photography of brown parquet flooring

Our ignorance of history causes us to slander our own times.

--Gustave Flaubert

Longer Version:

Our ignorance of history causes us to slander our own times. The ordinary person today lives better than a king did a century ago but is ungrateful!


white pampas grasses near body of water at daytime

The cult of art gives pride; one never has too much of it.

--Gustave Flaubert



closeup photo of bird beside purple petal flowers

It seems to me that I have always existed and that I possess memories that date back to the Pharaohs.

--Gustave Flaubert

pink flowers in tilt shift lens

My foregrounds are imaginary, my backgrounds real.

--Gustave Flaubert

man riding horse

She now felt an incessant and universal numbness.

--Gustave Flaubert

stars across the sky view at the desert

The artist must be in his work as God is in creation, invisible and all-powerful; one must sense him everywhere but never see him.

--Gustave Flaubert

photo of clear sky full of stars

The writer must wade into life as into the sea, but only up to the navel.

--Gustave Flaubert



woman in blue denim jacket and black pants standing beside train

The principal thing in the world is to keep the soul aloft.

--Gustave Flaubert



white pendant lamp

A rich woman seems to have all her banknotes about her, guarding her virtue, like a cuirass, in the lining of her corset.

--Gustave Flaubert

pink and teal striped textile

Casting aspersions on those we love always does something to loosen our ties. We shouldn't maltreat our idols: the gilt comes off on our hands.

--Gustave Flaubert


black pug

COLD. Healthier than heat.

--Gustave Flaubert


yellow flower in green grass field

All you have to do to make something interesting is to look at it long enough.

--Gustave Flaubert


silhouette of tall trees

Each dream finds at last its form; there is a drink for every thirst, and love for every heart. And there is no better way to spend your life than in the unceasing preoccupation of an idea -- of an ideal.

--Gustave Flaubert

pink dahlia in bloom

To be simple is no small matter.

--Gustave Flaubert

brown chopped logs

Me and my books in the same apartment, like a gherkin in its vinegar.

--Gustave Flaubert

green leafed tree on snowfield under white cloudy sky at daytime

There is no truth. There is only perception.

--Gustave Flaubert

group of people inside the room in grayscale photo

Happiness is a monstrosity! Punished are those who seek it.

--Gustave Flaubert



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