Hippolyte Taine

French critic and historian

Hippolyte Adolphe Taine (21 April 18285 March 1893) was a French critic and historian.

Hippolyte Taine


  • [Concerning the love La Fontaine felt for animals] He follows their emotions, he represents their reasonings, he becomes tender, he becomes gay, he participates in their feelings. The fact is, he lived in them. […] The animals contain all the materials of man-sensations, judgments, images.
    • La Fontaine et ses Fables (1853–1861), Hachette, 1911, p. 166 and 107; as quoted in Matthieu Ricard, A Plea for the Animals, trans. Sherab Chödzin Kohn, Shambhala Publications, 2016, p. 102.
  • The production of a work of art is determined by the material and intellectual climate in which a man lives and dies.
    • Philosophy of Art (1865)
  • Napoleon, far more Italian than French, Italian by race, by instinct, imagination, and souvenir, considers in his plan the future of Italy, and, on casting up the final accounts of his reign, we find that the net profit is for Italy and the net loss is for France. Since Theodoric and the Lombard kings, the Pope, in preserving his temporal sovereignty and spiritual omnipotence, has maintained the sub-divisions of Italy; let this obstacle be removed and Italy will once more become a nation. Napoleon prepares the way, and constitutes it beforehand by restoring the Pope to his primitive condition, by withdrawing from him his temporal sovereignty and limiting his spiritual omnipotence, by reducing him to the position of managing director of Catholic consciences and head minister of the principal cult authorized in the empire.
  • J'ai beaucoup étudié les philosophes et les chats. La sagesse des chats est infiniment supérieure.
    • Translation: I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior.
    • Epigraph for his book, Vie et opinions philosophiques d'un chat (1858). Paris: Rivages poche/Petit bibliothèque, 2014, back cover.

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