Quotations by Boileau-Despréaux, Nicolas


The world is full of fools, and he who would not wish to see one must not only shut himself up alone, but also break his looking glass.

Boileau - break his looking glass - wist_info quote

Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux (1636-1711) French poet and critic
(Attributed)

A variant is also attributed to Charles le Petit (1640-1625), Discours satiriques (1686).
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Honor is like an island, rugged and without a beach; once we have left it, we can never return.

[L’honneur est comme une ile escarpée et sans bords ;
On n’y peut plus rentrer dès qu’on en est dehors.]

Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux (1636-1711) French poet and critic
Satires, Satire 10, l. 167 (1716)
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In spite of every sage whom Greece can show,
Unerring wisdom never dwelt below;
Folly in all of every age we see,
The only difference lies in the degree.

[N’en déplaise à ces fous nommés sages de Grèce,
En ce monde il n’est point de parfaite sagesse :
Tous les hommes sont fous, et, malgré tous leurs soins,
Ne diffèrenet entre eux que du plus ou du moins.]

Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux (1636-1711) French poet and critic
Satires, Satire 4, l. 37 (1716)
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If your descent is from heroic sires,
Show in your life a remnant of their fires.

Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux (1636-1711) French poet and critic
Satires, Satire 5, l. 43 (1666)
Added on 4-Sep-18 | Last updated 4-Sep-18
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If your descent is from heroic sires,
Show in your life a remnant of their fires.

[Si vous êtes sorti de ces héros fameux,
Montrez-nous cette ardeur qu’on vit briller en eux.]

Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux (1636-1711) French poet and critic
Satires, Satire 5, l. 43 (1716)
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Of all the creatures that creep, swim, or fly,
Peopling the earth, the waters, and the sky,
From Rome to Iceland, Paris to Japan,
I really think the greatest fool is man.

[De tous les animaux qui s’élèvent dans l’air,
Qui marchent sur la terre, ou nagent dans la mer,
De Paris au Pérou, du Japon jusqu’à Rome,
Le plus sot animal, à mon avis, c’est l’homme.]

Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux (1636-1711) French poet and critic
Satires, Satire 8, l. 1 (1716)
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Hasten slowly, and without losing heart,
Put your work twenty times upon the anvil.

[Hâtez-vous lentement ; et, sans perdre courage,
Vingt fois sur le métier remettez votre ouvrage.]

Boileau - twenty times upon the anvil - wist_info quote

Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux (1636-1711) French poet and critic
The Art of Poetry [L’Art Poétique], Canto 1, l. 171 (1674)
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A fool always finds one still more foolish to admire him.

[Un sot trouve toujours un plus sot qui l’admire.]

Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux (1636-1711) French poet and critic
The Art of Poetry [L’Art Poétique], Canto 1, l. 232 (1674)

Alt. trans.: "A fool always finds a greater fool to admire him."
Added on 18-May-16 | Last updated 18-May-16
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Often the fear of one evil leads us into a worse.

[Souvent la peur d’un mal nous conduit dans un pire.]

Boileau-Despereaux - fear of one evil - wist_info quote

Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux (1636-1711) French poet and critic
The Art of Poetry [L’Art Poétique], Canto 1, l. 64 (1674)
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Every age has its pleasures, its style of wit, and its own ways.

Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux (1636-1711) French poet and critic
The Art of Poetry [L’Art Poétique], Canto 3 (1674)
Added on 7-Jul-16 | Last updated 7-Jul-16
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