Quotations by Verne, Jules


Ah, pierce me one hundred times with your needles fine
And I will thank you one hundred times, Saint Morphine,
You who Aesculapius has made a God.

[Ah! Perce-moi cent fois de ton aiguille fine
Et je te bénirai cent fois, Sainte Morphine,
Dont Esculape eût fait une divinité.]

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
“To Morphine [A la morphine]” (1866)
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A sonnet written while recovering from a leg injured in an attack by his nephew.

Alt. trans.: "Ah! Needle me a hundred times, and, yes, / A hundred times, Saint Morphine, I will bless / You, whom Asclepius would have deified." [Skinner (2011)]

(A number of sources give the name in the last line as "Aeseulapus," but this is almost certainly a mistyping of the Latin form of Asclepius that has been copied without consideration.)
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I believe cats to be spirits come to earth. A cat, I am sure, could walk on a cloud without coming through.

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
(Attributed)
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He believed in it, as certain good women believe in the leviathan — by faith, not by reason.

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, ch. 4 (1870)
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Everything is possible for an eccentric, especially when he is English.

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
A Floating City, ch. 8 (1871)
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Anything one man can imagine, other men can make real.

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
Around the World in Eighty Days (1873)
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A true Englishman doesn’t joke when he is talking about so serious a thing as a wager.

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
Around the World in Eighty Days (1873)
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Phileas Fogg had won his wager, and had made his journey around the world in eighty days. To do this he had employed every means of conveyance — steamers, railways, carriages, yachts, trading-vessels, sledges, elephants. The eccentric gentleman had throughout displayed all his marvellous qualities of coolness and exactitude. But what then? What had he really gained by all this trouble? What had he brought back from this long and weary journey?

Nothing, say you? Perhaps so; nothing but a charming woman, who, strange as it may appear, made him the happiest of men!

Truly, would you not for less than that make the tour around the world?

[Phileas Fogg avait gagné son pari. Il avait accompli en quatre-vingts jours ce voyage autour du monde! Il avait employé pour ce faire tous les moyens de transport, paquebots, railways, voitures, yachts, bâtiments de commerce, traîneaux, éléphant. L’excentrique gentleman avait déployé dans cette affaire ses merveilleuses qualités de sang-froid et d’exactitude. Mais après ? Qu’avait-il gagné à ce déplacement? Qu’avait-il rapporté de ce voyage?

Rien, dira-t-on? Rien, soit, si ce n’est une charmante femme, qui — quelque invraisemblable que cela puisse paraître — le rendit le plus heureux des hommes!

En vérité, ne ferait-on pas, pour moins que cela, le Tour du Monde?]

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
Around the World in Eighty Days, ch. 37 (1873)
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Great robbers always resemble honest folk. Fellows who have rascally faces have only one course to take, and that is to remain honest; otherwise, they would be arrested off-hand.

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
Around the World in Eighty Days, ch. 6 (1873)
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How many things have been denied one day, only to become realities the next!

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
From the Earth to the Moon (1865)
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Now when an American has an idea, he directly seeks a second American to share it. If there be three, they elect a president and two secretaries. Given four, they name a keeper of records, and the office is ready for work; five, they convene a general meeting, and the club is fully constituted.

[Or, quand un Américain a une idée, il cherche un second Américain qui la partage. Sont-ils trois, ils élisent un président et deux secrétaires. Quatre, ils nomment un archiviste, et le bureau fonctionne. Cinq, ils se convoquent en assemblée générale, et le club est constitué.]

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
From the Earth to the Moon, ch. 1 “The Gun Club” (1865)
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They did to others that which they would not they should do to them — that grand principle of immorality upon which rests the whole art of war.

[Ils faisaient à autrui ce qu’ils ne voulaient pas qu’on leur fît, principe immoral sur lequel repose tout l’art de la guerre.]

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
From the Earth to the Moon, ch. 10 (1865) [tr. Scribner’s (1890)]
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Alt. trans.: "They did unto others what they would not have others do unto them, an immoral principle that is the basic premise of the art of war." [tr. Miller (1978)]
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If we are to believe certain narrow minded people — and what else can we call them? — humanity is confined within a circle of Popilius from which there is no escape, condemned to vegetate upon this globe, never able to venture into interplanetary space! That’s not so! We are going to the moon, we shall go to the planets, we shall travel to the stars just as today we go from Liverpool to New York, easily, rapidly, surely, and the oceans of space will be crossed like the seas of the moon.

[À en croire certains esprits bornés, — c’est le qualificatif qui leur convient, — l’humanité serait renfermée dans un cercle de Popilius qu’elle ne saurait franchir, et condamnée à végéter sur ce globe sans jamais pouvoir s’élancer dans les espaces planétaires! Il n’en est rien! On va aller à la Lune, on ira aux planètes, on ira aux étoiles, comme on va aujourd’hui de Liverpool à New York, facilement, rapidement, sûrement, et l’océan atmosphérique sera bientôt traversé comme les océans de la Lune!]

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
From the Earth to the Moon, ch. 19 “A Monster Meeting” (1865) [tr. Miller (1978)]
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Alt. trans: "In spite of the opinions of certain narrow-minded people, who would shut up the human race upon this globe, as within some magic circle which it must never outstep, we shall one day travel to the moon, the planets, and the stars, with the same facility, rapidity, and certainty as we now make the voyage from Liverpool to New York!" [tr. Scribner's "Uniform Edition" (1890)]
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Science, my lad, has been built upon many errors; but they are errors which is was good to fall into, for they led to the truth.

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
Journey to the Center of the Earth [Voyage au centre de la Terre], ch. 30 [Liedenbrock] (1864)
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Alt. trans.: "Science, my lad, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth."
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“Is the Master out of his mind?” she asked me.

I nodded.

“And he’s taking you with him?”

I nodded again.

“Where?” she asked.

I pointed towards the centre of the earth.

“Into the cellar?” exclaimed the old servant.

“No,” I said, “farther down than that.”

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864)
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External objects produce decided effects upon the brain. A man shut up between four walls soon loses the power to associate words and ideas together. How many prisoners in solitary confinement become idiots, if not mad, for want of exercise for the thinking faculty!

[Les objets extérieurs ont une action réelle sur le cerveau. Qui s’enferme entre quatre murs finit par perdre la faculté d’associer les idées et les mots. Que de prisonniers cellulaires devenus imbéciles, sinon fous, par le défaut d’exercice des facultés pensantes.]

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
Journey to the Center of the Earth, ch. 26 (1864) [tr. Malleson (1877)]
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Science, my lad, has been built upon many errors; but they are errors which it was good to fall into, for they led to the truth.

[La science, mon garçon, est faite d’erreurs, mais d’erreurs qu’il est bon de commettre, car elles mènent peu à peu à la vérité.]

Verne - science and error - wist_info quote

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
Journey to the Center of the Earth, ch. 31 (1864) [tr. Malleson (1877)]
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Alt. trans.: "Science, my lad, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth."
Added on 4-Mar-16 | Last updated 10-Mar-16
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Was I to believe him in earnest in his intention to penetrate to the centre of this massive globe? Had I been listening to the mad speculations of a lunatic, or to the scientific conclusions of a lofty genius? Where did truth stop? Where did error begin?

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
Journey to the Center of the Earth, ch. 7 “A Woman’s Courage” (1864) [tr. Malleson]
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Reality provides us with facts so romantic that imagination itself could add nothing to them.

Verne - facts so romantic - wist_info quote

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
The Fur Country (1873)
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Before all masters, necessity is the one most listened to, and who teaches the best.

[La nécessité est, d’ailleurs, de tous les maîtres, celui qu’on écoute le plus et qui enseigne le mieux.]

Verne - masters necesity - wist_info quote

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
The Mysterious Island, Part 1, ch. 17 (1874)
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Yes, but water decomposed into its primitive elements … and decomposed doubtless, by electricity, which will then have become a powerful and manageable force, for all great discoveries, by some inexplicable law, appear to agree and become complete at the same time. Yes, my friends, I believe that water will one day be employed as fuel, that hydrogen and oxygen which constitute it, used singly or together, will furnish an inexhaustible source of heat and light, of an intensity of which coal is not capable. Some day the coalrooms of steamers and the tenders of locomotives will, instead of coal, be stored with these two condensed gases, which will burn in the furnaces with enormous calorific power. There is, therefore, nothing to fear. As long as the earth is inhabited it will supply the wants of its inhabitants, and there will be no want of either light or heat as long as the productions of the vegetable, mineral or animal kingdoms do not fail us. I believe, then, that when the deposits of coal are exhausted we shall heat and warm ourselves with water. Water will be the coal of the future!

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
The Mysterious Island, Part 2, ch. 11 (1874)
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It is a great misfortune to be alone, my friends; and it must be believed that solitude can quickly destroy reason.

[Malheur à qui est seul, mes amis, et il faut croire que l’isolement a vite fait de détruire la raison.]

Verne - misfortune to be alone - wist_info quote

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
The Mysterious Island, Part 2, ch. 15 (1874) [tr. White (1876)]
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“Men, Pencroft, however learned they may be, can never change anything of the cosmographical order established by God Himself.”

“And yet,” added Pencroft, “the world is very learned. What a big book, captain, might be made with all that is known!”

“And what a much bigger book still with all that is not known!” answered Harding.

[Les hommes, Pencroff, si savants qu’ils puissent être, ne pourront jamais changer quoi que ce soit à l’ordre cosmographique établi par Dieu même.
— Et pourtant, ajouta Pencroff, qui montra une certaine difficulté à se résigner, le monde est bien savant! Quel gros livre, monsieur Cyrus, on ferait avec tout ce qu’on sait!
— Et quel plus gros livre encore avec tout ce qu’on ne sait pas, répondit Cyrus Smith.]

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
The Mysterious Island, Part 3, ch. 14 (1874)
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He who is mistaken in an action which he sincerely believes to be right may be an enemy, but retains our esteem.

[Celui qui se trompe dans une intention qu’il croit bonne, on peut le combattre, on ne cesse pas de l’estimer.]

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
The Mysterious Island, Part 3, ch. 16 (1874)
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Though sleep is called our best friend, it is a friend who often keeps us waiting!

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
The Steam House, Book 2, ch. 5 (1880)
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Poets are like proverbs: you can always find one to contradict another.

[Les poëtes sont comme les proverbes : l’un est toujours là pour contredire l’autre.]

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
The Survivors of the Chancellor, ch. 5 “An Unusual Route” (1875)
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The Earth does not want new continents, but new men.

[Ce ne sont pas de nouveaux continents qu’il faut à la terre, mais de nouveaux hommes!]

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Part 1, ch. 18 “Vanikoro” (1870) [tr. Smith & Co. (1873)]
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Ch. 19 in the French text.

Alt. trans.: "The planet doesn't need new continents, it needs new men." [Miller (1966)]
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Freedom is worth paying for.

[La liberté vaut qu’on la paye.]

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Part 2, ch. 8 “Vigo Bay” (1870)
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We are of opinion that instead of letting books grow moldy behind an iron grating, far from the vulgar gaze, it is better to let them wear out by being read.

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864)
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Added on 16-Sep-16 | Last updated 16-Sep-16
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