Quotes by Victor Hugo

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The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved, loved for ourselves, or rather loved in spite of ourselves.

Greater than the tread of mighty armies is an idea whose time has come.
Adversity makes men, and prosperity makes monsters.
He who opens a school door, closes a prison.
When a woman is speaking to you, listen to what she says with her eyes.
The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather in spite of ourselves.
Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.
Forty is the old age of youth, fifty is the youth of old age.
Life's greatest happiness is to be convinced we are loved.
Separated lovers cheat absence by a thousand fancies which have their own reality. They are prevented from seeing one another and they cannot write; nevertheless they find countless mysterious ways of corresponding, by sending each other the song of birds, the scent of flowers, the laughter of children, the light of the sun, the sighing of the wind, and the gleam of the stars --all the beauties of creation.
To love another person is to see the face of God. [Les Miserables]
Our acts make or mar us, we are the children of our own deeds.
He does not weep who does not see.
A compliment is something like a kiss through a veil.
God created the flirt as soon as he made the fool.
Life is a flower of which love is the honey.
Common sense is in spite of, not as the result of education.
To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.
People do not lack strength; they lack will.
I met in the street a very poor young man who was in love. His hat was old, his coat worn, his cloak was out at the elbows, the water passed through his shoes -- and the stars through his soul.
There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come.
Curiosity is one of the forms of feminine bravery.
Certain thoughts are prayers. There are moments when, whatever be the attitude of the body, the soul is on its knees.
Strong and bitter words indicate a weak cause.
A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is visible labor and there is invisible labor.
Have courage for the great sorrows of life, and patience for the small ones. When you have laboriously accomplished your daily tasks, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.
Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings.
Short as life is, we make it still shorter by the careless waste of time.
In each age men of genius undertake the ascent. From below, the world follows them with their eyes. These men go up the mountain, enter the clouds, disappear, reappear, People watch them, mark them. They walk by the side of precipices. They daringly pursue their road. See them aloft, see them in the distance; they are but black specks. On they go. The road is uneven, its difficulties constant. At each step a wall, at each step a trap. As they rise the cold increases. They must make their ladder, cut the ice and walk on it., hewing the steps in haste. A storm is raging. Nevertheless they go forward in their madness. The air becomes difficult to breath. The abyss yawns below them. Some fall. Others stop and retrace their steps; there is a sad weariness. The bold ones continue. They are eyed by the eagles; the lightning plays about them: the hurricane is furious. No matter, they persevere.
Each man should frame life so that at some future hour fact and his dreaming meet.
There are thoughts which are prayers. There are moments when, whatever the posture of the body, the soul is on its knees.
It is not enough for us to prostrate ourselves under the tree which is Creation, and to contemplate its tremendous branches filled with stars. We have a duty to perform, to work upon the human soul, to defend the mystery against the miracle, to worship the incomprehensible while rejecting the absurd; to accept, in the inexplicable, only what is necessary; to dispel the superstitions that surround religion --to rid God of His Maggots.
Thought is the labor of the intellect, reverie is its pleasure.
Those who live are those who fight.
Life is the flower for which love is the honey.
Music expresses that which can not be said and on which it is impossible to be silent
Where the telescope ends, the microscope begins. Which of the two has the grander view?
Do not ask the name of the person who seeks a bed for the night. He who is reluctant to give his name is the one who most needs shelter.
Society is a republic. When an individual tries to lift themselves above others, they are dragged down by the mass, either by ridicule or slander.
One cannot be a good historian of the outward, visible world without giving some thought to the hidden, private life of ordinary people; and on the other hand one cannot be a good historian of this inner life without taking into account outward events where these are relevant. They are two orders of fact which reflect each other, which are always linked and which sometimes provoke each other.
There are fathers who do not love their children, but there is no grandfather who does not adore his grandson.
In this world, which is so plainly the antechamber of another, there are no happy men. The true division of humanity is between those who live in light and those who live in darkness. Our aim must be to diminish the number of the latter and increase the number of the former. That is why we demand education and knowledge.
We may remark in passing that to be blind and beloved may, in this world where nothing is perfect, be among the most strangely exquisite forms of happiness. The supreme happiness in life is the assurance of being loved; of being loved for oneself, even in spite of oneself; and this assurance the blind man possesses. In his affliction, to be served is to be caressed. Does he lack anything? no. Possessing love he is not deprived of light. A love, moreover, that is wholly pure. There can be no blindness where there is this certainty.
Loving is half of believing.
From the oyster to the eagle, from the swine to the tiger, all animals are to be found in men and each of them exists in some man, sometimes several at the time. Animals are nothing but the portrayal of our virtues and vices made manifest to our eyes, the visible reflections of our souls. God displays them to us to give us food for thought.
Initiative is doing the right thing without being told.
Life is a voyage.
Such is the remorseless progression of human society, shedding lives and souls as it goes on its way. It is an ocean into which men sink who have been cast out by the law and consigned, with help most cruelly withheld, to moral death. The sea is the pitiless social darkness into which the penal system casts those it has condemned, an unfathomable waste of misery. The human soul, lost in those depths, may become a corpse. Who shall revive it?
We are on the side of religion as opposed to religions, and we are among those who believe in the wretched inadequacy of sermons and the sublimity of prayer.
My tastes are aristocratic, my actions democratic.
A library implies an act of faith.
Jesus wept; Voltaire smiled. From that divine tear and from that human smile is derived the grace of present civilization.
Genius is a promontory jutting out into the infinite.
It is the essence of truth that it is never excessive. Why should it exaggerate? There is that which should be destroyed and that which should be simply illuminated and studied. How great is the force of benevolent and searching examination! We must not resort to the flame where only light is required.
Great perils have this beauty, that they bring to light the fraternity of strangers.
It is from books that wise people derive consolation in the troubles of life.
be as a bird perched on a frail branch
He who every morning plans the transaction of the day and follows out the plan, carries a thread that will guide him through the labyrinth of the most busy life.
The greatest blunders, like the thickest ropes, are often compounded of a multitude of strands. Take the rope apart, separate it into the small threads that compose it, and you can break them one by one. You think, That is all there was! But twist them all together and you have something tremendous.
Nations, like stars, are entitled to eclipse. All is well, provided the light returns and the eclipse does not become endless night. Dawn and resurrection are synonymous. The reappearance of the light is the same as the survival of the soul.
The mountains, the forest, and the sea, render men savage; they develop the fierce, but yet do not destroy the human.
The convent, which belongs to the West as it does to the East, to antiquity as it does to the present time, to Buddhism and Muhammadanism as it does to Christianity, is one of the optical devices whereby man gains a glimpse of infinity.
You have enemies? Why, it is the story of every man who has done a great deed or created a new idea. It is the cloud which thunders around everything that shines. Fame must have enemies, as light must have gnats. Do not bother yourself about it; disdain.
He, who every morning plans the transactions of the day, and follows that plan, carries a thread that will guide him through a labyrinth of the most busy life.
Popularity? It's glory's small change.
Progress is the stride of God.
Progress is the life-style of man. The general life of the human race is called Progress, and so is its collective march. Progress advances, it makes the great human and earthly journey towards what is heavenly and divine; it has its pauses, when it rallies the stragglers, its stopping places when it meditates, contemplating some new and splendid promised land that has suddenly appeared on its horizon. It has its nights of slumber; and it is one of the poignant anxieties of the thinker to see the human spirit lost in shadow, and to grope in the darkness without being able to awake sleeping progress.
We say that slavery has vanished from European civilization, but this is not true. Slavery still exists, but now it applies only to women and its name is prostitution.
Let us have compassion for those under chastisement. Alas, who are we ourselves? Who am I and who are you? Whence do we come and is it quite certain that we did nothing before we were born? This earth is not without some resemblance to a gaol. Who knows but that man is a victim of divine justice? Look closely at life. It is so constituted that one senses punishment everywhere.
Most commonly revolt is born of material circumstances; but insurrection is always a moral phenomenon. Revolt is Masaniello, who led the Neapolitan insurgents in 1647; but insurrection is Spartacus. Insurrection is a thing of the spirit, revolt is a thing of the stomach.
Toleration is the best religion.
The brutalities of progress are called revolutions. When they are over we realize this: that the human race has been roughly handled, but that it has advanced.
A saint addicted to excessive self-abnegation is a dangerous associate; he may infect you with poverty, and a stiffening of those joints which are needed for advancement -- in a word, with more renunciation than you care for -- and so you flee the contagion.
No one ever keeps a secret so well as a child.
Nothing can be more depressing than to expose, naked to the light of thought, the hideous growth of argot. Indeed it is like a sort of repellent animal intended to dwell in darkness which has been dragged out of its cloaca. One seems to see a horned and living creature viciously struggling to be restored to the place where it belongs. One word is like a claw, another like a sightless and bleeding eye; and there are phrases which clutch like the pincers of a crab. And all of it is alive with the hideous vitality of things that have organized themselves amid disorganization.
The book which the reader now holds in his hands, from one end to the other, as a whole and in its details, whatever gaps, exceptions, or weaknesses it may contain, treats of the advance from evil to good, from injustice to justice, from falsity to truth, from darkness to daylight, from blind appetite to conscience, from decay to life, from bestiality to duty, from Hell to Heaven, from limbo to God. Matter itself is the starting-point, and the point of arrival is the soul. Hydra at the beginning, an angel at the end.
Superstition, bigotry and prejudice, ghosts though they are, cling tenaciously to life; they are shades armed with tooth and claw. They must be grappled with unceasingly, for it is a fateful part of human destiny that it is condemned to wage perpetual war against ghosts. A shade is not easily taken by the throat and destroyed.
To rescue from oblivion even a fragment of a language which men have used and which is in danger of being lost --that is to say, one of the elements, whether good or bad, which have shaped and complicated civilization --is to extend the scope of social observation and to serve civilization.
Whenever we encounter the Infinite in man, however imperfectly understood, we treat it with respect. Whether in the synagogue, the mosque, the pagoda, or the wigwam, there is a hideous aspect which we execrate and a sublime aspect which we venerate. So great a subject for spiritual contemplation, such measureless dreaming -- the echo of God on the human wall!
Mankind is not a circle with a single center but an ellipse with two focal points of which facts are one and ideas the other.
Close by the Rights of Man, at the least set beside them, are the Rights of the Spirit.
There is a sacred horror about everything grand. It is easy to admire mediocrity and hills; but whatever is too lofty, a genius as well as a mountain, an assembly as well as a masterpiece, seen too near, is appalling.
For prying into any human affairs, non are equal to those whom it does not concern.
Liberation is not deliverance.
There is no more sovereign eloquence than the truth in indignation.
Despots play their part in the works of thinkers. Fettered words are terrible words. The writer doubles and trebles the power of his writing when a ruler imposes silence on the people. Something emerges from that enforced silence, a mysterious fullness which filters through and becomes steely in the thought. Repression in history leads to conciseness in the historian, and the rocklike hardness of much celebrated prose is due to the tempering of the tyrant.
There exists, at the bottom of all abasement and misfortune, a last extreme which rebels and joins battle with the forces of law and respectability in a desperate struggle, waged partly by cunning and partly by violence, at once sick and ferocious, in which it attacks the prevailing social order with the pin-pricks of vice and the hammer-blows of crime.
We are the children of our own deeds.
A creditor is worse than a slave-owner; for the master owns only your person, but a creditor owns your dignity, and can command it.
I'd rather be hissed at for a good verse, than applauded for a bad one.
There are obstinate and unknown braves who defend themselves inch by inch in the shadows against the fatal invasion of want and turpitude. There are noble and mysterious triumphs which no eye sees. No renown rewards, and no flourish of trumpets salutes. Life, misfortune, isolation, abandonment, and poverty and battlefields which have their heroes.
One is not idle because one is absorbed. There is both visible and invisible labor. To contemplate is to toil, to think is to do. The crossed arms work, the clasped hands act. The eyes upturned to Heaven are an act of creation.
As the purse is emptied, the heart is filled.
When grace is joined with wrinkles, it is adorable. There is an unspeakable dawn in happy old age.
There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul
A brave little bird, probably a lover, was carolling in a distracted manner in a large tree.
There are instincts which respond to all the change meetings in life. The little girl was not afraid.
The most heart-breaking thing of all was, that this young girl had not come into the world to be homely. In her early childhood she must even have been pretty. The grace of her age was still struggling against the hideous, premature decrepitude of debauchery and poverty. The remains of beauty were dying away in that face of sixteen, like the pale sunlight which is extinguished under hideous clouds at dawn on a winter's day.
Nothing could be more melancholy than to see her sport about the room, and, so to speak, flit with the movements of a bird which is frightened by the daylight, or which has broken its wing. One felt that under other conditions of education and destiny, the gay and over-free mien of this young girl might have turned out sweet and charming. Never, even among animals, does the creature born to be a dove change into an osprey. This is only to be seen among men.
Be as a bird that— / Pausing in its flight— / Alights upon a branch too slight / And feeling that it bends beneath it / Sings—knowing it has wings.
Joy’s smile is much closer to tears than laughter.
Table talk and lovers’ talk equally elude the grasp; lovers’ talk is clouds, table talk is smoke.
There are many tongues to talk, and but few heads to think.
Indigestion is charged by God with enforcing morality on the stomach.
To meditate is to labour; to think is to act.