Hippolyte Taine

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

Hippolyte Taine

Quotes edit

  • [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.
  • 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.
  • 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)
  • One puts in the hands of each adult a ballot, but on the back of each soldier a knapsack: with what promises of massacre and bankruptcy for the Twentieth Century, with what exasperation of ill will and distrust, with what loss of wholesome effort, by what a perversion of productive discoveries, accompanied by what an improvement in the means of destruction, by what recoil toward the inferior and unhealthy forms of the old combative societies, by what a backward step toward egoistic and brutal instincts, toward the sentiments, manner and morality of ancient cities and barbaric tribes, we know all too well.
    • Origines de la France contemporaine, cited in Hoffman Nickerson, The Armed Horde (1940)
  • 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.

Quotes about Taine edit

  • M. Taine, looking as usual for formulas and labels, says that the most complete description of Balzac is that he was a man of business—a man of business in debt.
    • Henry James, in the essay Honoré de Balzac as reprinted in Literary Criticism Volume Two: French Writers, Other European Writers, The Prefaces to the New York Edition, edited by Leon Edel and Mark Wilson (Library of America, 1984)

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