Henri Barbusse Quotes

We are in a great night of the world. The thing is to know if we shall wake up to-morrow. We have only one succor we know of what the night is made. But shall we be able to impart our lucid faith, seeing that the heralds of warning are everywhere few, and that the greatest victims hate the only ideal which is not one, and call it utopian?

Henri Barbusse

Truth is simple. They who say that truth is complicated deceive themselves, and the truth is not in them.

Henri Barbusse

I do not regret my youth and its beliefs. Up to now, I have wasted my time to live. Youth is the true force, but it is too rarely lucid. Sometimes it has a triumphant liking for what is now, and the pugnacious broadside of paradox may please it. But there is a degree in innovation which they who have not lived very much cannot attain. And yet who knows if the stern greatness of present events will not have educated and aged the generation which to-day forms humanity's effective frontier? Whatever our hope may be, if we did not place it in youth, where should we place it?

Henri Barbusse

We hear talk of sanctified selfishness, of the adorable expansion of one race across the others, of noble hatreds and glorious conquests, and we see these ideals trying to take shape on all hands.

Henri Barbusse

That society is badly arranged which forces nearly all women to be servants. Marie, who is as good as I am, will have spent her life in cleaning, in stooping amid dust and hot fumes, over head and ears in the great artificial darkness of the house. I used to find it all natural. Now I think it is all anti-natural.

Henri Barbusse

Each country will be a moral force, and no longer a brutal force; while all brutal forces clash with themselves, all moral forces make mighty harmony together.

Henri Barbusse

We do not speak. We have gone down along the side of the river slowly, as if we were climbing towards the stone seat of the wall. The distances have altered. This seat, for instance, we meet it sooner than we thought we should, like some one in the dark; but it is the seat all right. The rose-tree which grew above it has withered away and become a crown of thorns.

Henri Barbusse

Through centuries of centuries, fire and water face each other; the fire, upright, buoyant and leaping; the water flat, creeping, gliding, widening its lines and its surface. When they touch, is it the water which hisses and roars, or is it the fire?

Henri Barbusse

Only the idolatrous and the weak have need of illusion as of a remedy. The rest only need see and speak. She smiles, vague as an angel, hovering in the purity of the evening between light and darkness. I am so near to her that I must kneel to be nearer still. I kiss her wet face and soft lips, holding her hand in both of mine. Yes, there is a Divinity, one from which we must never turn aside for the guidance of our huge inward life and of the share we have as well in the life of all men. It is called the truth.

Henri Barbusse

To live is to be happy to live. The usefulness of life ah! its expansion has not the mystic shapes we vainly dreamed of when we were paralyzed by youth. Rather has it a shape of anxiety, of shuddering, of pain and glory. Our heart is not made for the abstract formula of happiness, since the truth of things is not made for it either. It beats for emotion and not for peace. Such is the gravity of the truth.

Henri Barbusse

To understand life, and love it to its depths in a living being, that is the being's task, and that his masterpiece; and each of us can hardly occupy his time so greatly as with one other; we have only one true neighbor down here.

Henri Barbusse

It seems to me that truth has taken its place again in our little room, and become incarnate; that the greatest bond which can bind two beings together is being confessed, the great bond we did not know of, though it is the whole of salvation: "Before, I loved you for my own sake; to-day, I love you for yours."

Henri Barbusse

All my strength has come back to me. I am no longer wounded or ill. I carry her in my arms. It is difficult work to carry in your arms a being equal to yourself. Strong as you may be, you hardly suffice for it. And what I say as I look at her and see her, I say because I am strong and not because I am weak: "You're everything for me because you are you, and I love all of you."

Henri Barbusse

This hunger for novelty which makes sensuous love equally changeful and rapacious, which makes us seek the same emotion in other bodies which we cast off as fast as they fall turns life into an infernal succession of disenchantments, spites and scorn; and it is chiefly that hunger for novelty which leaves us a prey to unrealizable hope and irrevocable regret. Those lovers who persist in remaining together execute themselves; the name of their common death, which at first was Absence, becomes Presence.

Henri Barbusse

All that we can remember is almost nothing. Memory is greater than we are, but memory is living and mortal as well.

Henri Barbusse

I proclaim the inevitable advent of the universal republic. Not the transient backslidings, nor the darkness and the dread, nor the tragic difficulty of uplifting the world everywhere at once will prevent the fulfillment of international truth.

Henri Barbusse
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