A free press can, of course, be good or bad, but, most certainly without freedom, the press will never be anything but bad.
A guilty conscience needs to confess. A work of art is a confession.
A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world.
A man’s work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened.
A taste for truth at any cost is a passion which spares nothing.
After all manner of professors have done their best for us, the place we are to get knowledge is in books. The true university of these days is a collection of books.
After all, every murderer when he kills runs the risk of the most dreadful of deaths, whereas those who kill him risk nothing except promotion.
Ah, mon cher, for anyone who is alone, without God and without a master, the weight of days is dreadful.
Alas, after a certain age every man is responsible for his face.
All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning. Great works are often born on a street corner or in a restaurant’s revolving door.
All modern revolutions have ended in a reinforcement of the power of the State.
An intellectual is someone whose mind watches itself.
As a remedy to life in society I would suggest the big city. Nowadays, it is the only desert within our means.
At 30 a man should know himself like the palm of his hand, know the exact number of his defects and qualities, know how far he can go, foretell his failures – be what he is. And, above all, accept these things.
At any street corner the feeling of absurdity can strike any man in the face.
Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time.
Blessed are the hearts that can bend; they shall never be broken.
But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?
By definition, a government has no conscience. Sometimes it has a policy, but nothing more.
Charm is a way of getting the answer yes without asking a clear question.
Culture: the cry of men in face of their destiny.
Don’t believe your friends when they ask you to be honest with them. All they really want is to be maintained in the good opinion they have of themselves.
Don’t wait for the last judgment – it takes place every day.
Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.
Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being.
Every man needs slaves like he needs clean air. To rule is to breathe, is it not? And even the most disenfranchised get to breathe. The lowest on the social scale have their spouses or their children.
Every revolutionary ends up either by becoming an oppressor or a heretic.
For centuries the death penalty, often accompanied by barbarous refinements, has been trying to hold crime in check; yet crime persists. Why? Because the instincts that are warring in man are not, as the law claims, constant forces in a state of equilibrium.
For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life.
Freedom is nothing but a chance to be better.
He who despairs of the human condition is a coward, but he who has hope for it is a fool.
How can sincerity be a condition of friendship? A taste for truth at any cost is a passion which spares nothing.
How hard, how bitter it is to become a man!
I know of only one duty, and that is to love.
I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn’t, than live my life as if there isn’t and die to find out there is.
In order to exist just once in the world, it is necessary never again to exist.
In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion.
In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.
Integrity has no need of rules.
It is a kind of spiritual snobbery that makes people think they can be happy without money.
It is normal to give away a little of one’s life in order not to lose it all.
It is not your paintings I like, it is your painting.
It’s a kind of spiritual snobbery that makes people think they can be happy without money.
Man is an idea, and a precious small idea once he turns his back on love.
Man is the only creature that refuses to be what he is.
Man wants to live, but it is useless to hope that this desire will dictate all his actions.
Martyrs, my friend, have to choose between being forgotten, mocked or used. As for being understood – never.
Men are convinced of your arguments, your sincerity, and the seriousness of your efforts only by your death.
Men are never really willing to die except for the sake of freedom: therefore they do not believe in dying completely.
Men must live and create. Live to the point of tears.
Methods of thought which claim to give the lead to our world in the name of revolution have become, in reality, ideologies of consent and not of rebellion.
Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.
Note, besides, that it is no more immoral to directly rob citizens than to slip indirect taxes into the price of goods that they cannot do without.
Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear.
One leader, one people, signifies one master and millions of slaves.
Only a philosophy of eternity, in the world today, could justify non-violence.
Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.
Real nobility is based on scorn, courage, and profound indifference.
Retaliation is related to nature and instinct, not to law. Law, by definition, cannot obey the same rules as nature.
Some people talk in their sleep. Lecturers talk while other people sleep.
Stupidity has a knack of getting its way.
The absurd is the essential concept and the first truth.
The desire for possession is insatiable, to such a point that it can survive even love itself. To love, therefore, is to sterilize the person one loves.
The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.
The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor.
The modern mind is in complete disarray. Knowledge has stretched itself to the point where neither the world nor our intelligence can find any foot-hold. It is a fact that we are suffering from nihilism.
The myth of unlimited production brings war in its train as inevitably as clouds announce a storm.
The need to be right is the sign of a vulgar mind.
The only real progress lies in learning to be wrong all alone.
The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.
The real passion of the twentieth century is servitude.
The society based on production is only productive, not creative.
The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.
The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.
The world is never quiet, even its silence eternally resounds with the same notes, in vibrations which escape our ears. As for those that we perceive, they carry sounds to us, occasionally a chord, never a melody.
There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide.
There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn.
There is the good and the bad, the great and the low, the just and the unjust. I swear to you that all that will never change.
There will be no lasting peace either in the heart of individuals or in social customs until death is outlawed.
Those who lack the courage will always find a philosophy to justify it.
Those who weep for the happy periods which they encounter in history acknowledge what they want; not the alleviation but the silencing of misery.
Those who write clearly have readers, those who write obscurely have commentators.
To abandon oneself to principles is really to die – and to die for an impossible love which is the contrary of love.
To assert in any case that a man must be absolutely cut off from society because he is absolutely evil amounts to saying that society is absolutely good, and no-one in his right mind will believe this today.
To be famous, in fact, one has only to kill one’s landlady.
To be happy we must not be too concerned with others.
To correct a natural indifference I was placed half-way between misery and the sun. Misery kept me from believing that all was well under the sun, and the sun taught me that history wasn’t everything.
To insure the adoration of a theorem for any length of time, faith is not enough, a police force is needed as well.
To know oneself, one should assert oneself.
Too many have dispensed with generosity in order to practice charity.
Truly fertile Music, the only kind that will move us, that we shall truly appreciate, will be a Music conducive to Dream, which banishes all reason and analysis. One must not wish first to understand and then to feel. Art does not tolerate Reason.
Truth, like light, blinds. Falsehood, on the contrary, is a beautiful twilight that enhances every object.
Virtue cannot separate itself from reality without becoming a principle of evil.
We always deceive ourselves twice about the people we love – first to their advantage, then to their disadvantage.
We are all special cases.
We call first truths those we discover after all the others.
We continue to shape our personality all our life. If we knew ourselves perfectly, we should die.
We get into the habit of living before acquiring the habit of thinking. In that race which daily hastens us towards death, the body maintains its irreparable lead.
We rarely confide in those who are better than we are.
We turn toward God only to obtain the impossible.
We used to wonder where war lived, what it was that made it so vile. And now we realize that we know where it lives… inside ourselves.
What is a rebel? A man who says no.
What the world requires of the Christians is that they should continue to be Christians.
When you have really exhausted an experience you always reverence and love it.
Without culture, and the relative freedom it implies, society, even when perfect, is but a jungle. This is why any authentic creation is a gift to the future.
Without freedom, no art; art lives only on the restraints it imposes on itself, and dies of all others.
Without work, all life goes rotten. But when work is soulless, life stifles and dies.
You cannot create experience. You must undergo it.
You have to be very rich or very poor to live without a trade.
You know what charm is: a way of getting the answer ‘yes’ without having asked any clear question.
You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.
Your successes and happiness are forgiven you only if you generously consent to share them.