Honoré de Balzac and His Best Quotes

August 7, 2019
Honoré de Balzac's quotes are the heart of his writings and are grounded in his experience. Today, we'll look at some of his most famous ones. Read on!

Choosing the best quotes from Honoré de Balzac, the French novelist and playwright, isn’t an easy task. Almost all of his statements endow wisdom with a beauty that makes it difficult to select just a few. After all, we’re talking about one of the greatest novelists of all time.

One of the most interesting aspects of Balzac’s quotes is the realism and sharpness with which he visualizes human condition. Honoré de Balzac was just that: a deep observer of individual and social behavior, and this is reflected in his works.

Another notable aspect of this great novelist’s works is his respect for human complexity. His ideas and characters are never one-dimensional or simple. He knew well the contradictory forces that are at work in each one of us, bringing out our greatness but highlighting our misery. These are some of Balzac’s most prominent quotes.

“All happiness depends on courage and work. I have had many periods of wretchedness, but with energy and, above all, hope, I pulled through them all.”

-Honoré de Balzac-

The quotes of Honoré de Balzac.

Three profound Honoré de Balzac quotes

Forgetting is the great secret of strong and creative lives“.

This quote states that just as memory plays a definite role in the construction of identity, forgetting also plays a decisive role in the ability to move forward.

Another of Balzac’s quotes points out: “There’s no such thing as a great talent without great willpower“. Balzac is the perfect example of hard work. He worked for up to 15 hours each day and spent hundreds of nights without sleeping. That’s why his great work The Human Comedy is both monumental and eternal.

Another of his quotes states: “When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt“. This is a play on words that contains a great truth: insecurity feeds on itself.

Honoré de Balzac, the thinker

Honoré de Balzac reflected a lot on life and its meaning. Also, on values ​​and their meaning. The result of these thoughts is this statement: “Our worst misfortunes never happen, and most miseries lie in anticipation“. Simply put, thinking about the bad things that may befall us is, in most cases, useless.

One of the recurring themes in Balzac’s quotes is vices and passions. In this regard, he says: “Noble passions are like vices: the more they’re satisfied, the greater they grow“. This tells us how passions really are and their positive and negative sides. Both passions and vices tend to grow as they’re allowed to flow.

Another great Balzac quote is: “In great crises, the heart is broken or tanned“. The word “tan”, in this case, refers to the original meaning of the word: to become flexible enough.

A young woman thinking.

Relationships between people

This is a beautiful Balzac quote which refers to friendship: “What makes friendship indissolute and what doubles its charms, is a feeling we find lacking in love: I mean certitude“. He certainly wasn’t wrong. While there’s always some insecurity in romantic love, friendship gives us certainty.

Also regarding relationships between people, Balzac noted: “Whereas scoundrels become reconciled after knifing one another, lovers break up irrevocably over a mere glance or word”. Genuine love ties are much more delicate than those based on convenience or habit.

Balzac was French, and, as a good Frenchman, he also dedicated some of his reflections to appearance and elegance: “Elegance is the science of doing nothing, just the same as everyone else, and giving the impression that we do what everyone else does”.

Like many other great characters in history, Balzac’s life wasn’t easy. He survived an abusive childhood and adolescence and a breakdown that he called “intellectual congestion”. He loved novels and enjoyed the admiration of his contemporaries, leaving us a treasure store of wisdom in the form of literature for those intrepid explorers who also live their lives seeking knowledge.

  • Benjamin, R. (1962). La vie prodigieuse de Balzac. Union générale d’éditions.