Quotations by Gautier, Theophile


All passes. — Only strong art
Passes to eternity.
The bust
Survives the city.

And the austere coin
That a workman finds
Underground
Reveals an emperor.

[Tout passe. — L’art robuste
Seul a l’éternité,
     Le buste
Survit à la cité.

Et la médaille austère
Que trouve un laboureur
     Sous terre
Révèle un empereur.]

Théophile Gautier (1811-1872) French poet, writer, critic
“L’Art,” l. 41ff, Émaux et Camées (1852)
    (Source)

(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

Everything passes. --
Only robust art is eternal.
The bust outlives the city.

And the simple coin
Unearthed by a peasant
Reveals the image of an emperor.
[Source]

All passes, Art alone
Enduring stays to us;
The Bust outlasts the throne, --
The Coin, Tiberius.
[Austin Dobson, "Ars Victrix" (1876), in imitation]

Everything passes -- Robust art
Alone is eternal.
The bust
Survives the city.
[Source]

Everything disappears -- Robust art
   alone is eternal:
      The Bust survives the city.
[Source]

Everything passes away. -- Robust Art
   Alone has eternity;
      The bust
   Survives the city.
[Source]

Added on 7-Apr-22 | Last updated 7-Apr-22
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Such in the Landes of our world is the poet’s stance;
When he receives no wound, his treasure he’ll retain.
With such deep cut mankind his heart must also lance,
To make him spill his verse, his gold tears’ gushing rain!

[Le poète est ainsi dans les Landes du monde.
Lorsqu’il est sans blessure, il garde son trésor.
Il faut qu’il ait au cœur une entaille profonde
Pour épancher ses vers, divines larmes d’or!]

Théophile Gautier (1811-1872) French poet, writer, critic
“The Pine of Landes [Le Pin des Landes]”, l. 13ff (1840)
    (Source)

The metaphor is of a poet as one of the pine trees used in the reforestation of the Landes of Gascogne, having its sap harvested for turpentine. (Source (French)). Alternate translation:

Landes-like, the poet with his poetry,
Unwounded, holds his treasure well controlled.
But he must bear a deep heart-gash if he
Would spread his verses' heavenly tears of gold!
[tr. Shapiro (2011)]

Added on 1-Apr-22 | Last updated 1-Apr-22
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Art for Art’s Sake means

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, for its adepts, the pursuit of pure beauty — without any other consideration.

[L’art pour l’art signifie, pour les adeptes, un travail dégagé de toute préoccupation autre que celle du beau en lui-même.]

Théophile Gautier (1811-1872) French poet, writer, critic
L’Art Moderne, “Beauty in Art [Du Beau Dans L’Art]” (1856) [tr. Ruckstull (1925)]
    (Source)

(Source (French)).
Added on 5-May-22 | Last updated 5-May-22
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Chance is the pseudonym of God when he did not want to sign.

[Le hasard, c’est peut-être le pseudonyme de Dieu quand il ne veut pas signer.]

Théophile Gautier (1811-1872) French poet, writer, critic
La Croix de Berny, Letter 3 (1855) [with Jules Sandeau, Émile de Girardin, and Joseph Méry]

Source (French). Alternate translation:

Let [chance] act

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, for perhaps it is the pseudonym of God.
[tr. Fendall/Holcomb (1873)]

Frequently misattributed to Anatole France.
Added on 21-Apr-22 | Last updated 21-Apr-22
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The cat is a dilettante in fur.

Théophile Gautier (1811-1872) French poet, writer, critic
Ménagerie Intime, ch. 1 “Temps Anciens” (1864)
    (Source)

Paraphrase of an anecdote about his cat, Madame Théophile, who would lay a paw on a visiting singer's lips if a certain high note were sung, often tested by guests: "The dilettante in fur was not to be deceived." [Il était impossible de tromper sur la note cette chatte dilettante.]

Excerpted in Champfleury, The Cat, Past and Present, "Supplementary Notes by the Translator" (1869) [tr. Hoey (1885)]
Added on 15-Dec-20 | Last updated 15-Dec-20
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