Goncourt brothers

The brothers Edmond Louis Antoine Huot de Goncourt (May 26 1822July 16 1896) and Jules Alfred Huot de Goncourt (December 17 1830June 20 1870) were French writers who, in a lifelong collaboration, produced a number of histories, novels and works of art criticism. They are now chiefly famous for their Journals, kept from 1851 to 1895.

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JournalsEdit

Quotations in the original French are cited from Journal des Goncourt (Paris: Bibliothèque-Charpentier, 1888-1896), 9 vols.

  • On a souvent essayé de définir le Beau en art. Ce que c'est? Le beau, est ce qui paraît abominable aux yeux sans éducation.
    • There have been many definitions of beauty in art. What is it? Beauty is what untrained eyes consider abominable.
    • February 17, 1859; translation from Robert Baldick (ed. and trans.) Pages from the Goncourt Journal (London: Oxford University Press, 1962) p. 40.
  • Ne jamais parler de soi aux autres et leur parler toujours d'eux-mêmes: c'est tout l'art de plaire. Chacun le sait et tout le monde l'oublie.
    • The art of pleasing consists in never speaking of oneself and always talking to others of themselves. Every one is aware of this, yet how often is it forgotten.
    • March 4, 1860; translation from M. A. Belloc and M. Shedlock Edmond and Jules de Goncourt (London: William Heinemann, 1895) vol. 1, p. 148.
  • Dans la langue de la bourgeoisie, la grandeur des mots est en raison directe de la petitesse des sentiments.
    • In the language of the bourgeoisie, the grandeur of the words is in direct proportion to the pettiness of the sentiments.
    • November 29, 1860; translation from Béatrix Le Wita (trans. J. A. Underwood) French Bourgeois Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994) p. 53.
  • Évidemment, les critiques n'ont été créés que le septième jour. S'ils avaient été créés le premier, qu'auraient-ils eu à faire?
    • Critics must have been created on the seventh day. Because if God had created them on the first day, what on earth would they have done?
    • March 8, 1863; translation from Robert Baldick Dinner at Magny's (London: Victor Gollancz, 1971) p. 77.
  • Un livre n'est jamais un chef-d'œuvre, il le devient. Le génie est le talent d'un homme mort.
    • A book is never a masterpiece: it becomes one. Genius is the talent of a dead man.
    • July 23, 1864; translation from Robert Baldick (ed. and trans.) Pages from the Goncourt Journal (London: Oxford University Press, 1962) p. 100.
  • Il n'y a que deux grands courants dans l'histoire de l'humanité: la bassesse qui fait les conservateurs et l'envie qui fait les révolutionnaires.
    • There are two great currents in the history of humanity: baseness, which makes conservatives; and envy, which makes revolutionaries.
    • July 12, 1867; translation from Lewis Galantière (ed. and trans.) The Goncourt Journals: 1851-1870 (London: Cassell, 1937) p. 246.
  • S'il y a un Dieu, l'athéisme doit lui sembler une moindre injure que la religion.
    • If there is a God, atheism must strike Him as less of an insult than religion.
    • January 24, 1868; translation from Robert Baldick (ed. and trans.) Pages from the Goncourt Journal (London: Oxford University Press, 1962) p. 135.
  • Une des joies d'orgueil de l'homme de lettres, — quand cet homme de lettres est un artiste, — c'est de sentir en lui la faculté de pouvoir immortaliser, à son gré, ce qu'il lui plait d'immortaliser. Dans ce peu de chose qu'il est, il a comme la conscience d'une divinité créatrice. Dieu crée des existences; l'homme d'imagination crée des vies fictives, qui laissent dans la mémoire du monde un souvenir plus profond, plus vécu pour ainsi dire.
    • One of the proud joys of the man of letters—if that man of letters is an artist—is to feel within himself the power to immortalize at will anything he chooses to immortalize. Insignificant though he may be, he is conscious of possessing a creative divinity. God creates lives; the man of imagination creates fictional lives which may make a more profound and as it were more living impression on the world's memory.
    • February 8, 1868; translation from Robert Baldick (ed. and trans.) Pages from the Goncourt Journal (London: Oxford University Press, 1962) p. 135.
  • L'Anglais, filou comme peuple, est honnête comme individu. Il est le contraire du Français, honnête comme peuple et filou comme individu.
    • The English are crooked as a nation and honest as individuals. The contrary is true of the French, who are honest as a nation and crooked as individuals.
    • October 29, 1868; translation from Robert Baldick (ed. and trans.) Pages from the Goncourt Journal (London: Oxford University Press, 1962) p. 141.

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Last modified on 13 April 2014, at 05:03