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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index B > Honoré de Balzac Quotes

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Honoré de Balzac
(20 May 1799 - 18 Aug 1850)

French novelist and playwright who is known for his La Comédie humaine, a collection of almost 100 novels and plays on French life after the 1815 fall of Napoléon Bonaparte.

Science Quotes by Honoré de Balzac (16 quotes)

A man cannot marry before he has studied anatomy and has dissected at the least one woman.
— Honoré de Balzac
The Physiology of Marriage (1826), trans. Sharon Marcus (1997), Aphorism XXVII, 63.
Science quotes on:  |  Anatomy (55)  |  Marriage (27)  |  Physiology (60)

After innumerable dynasties of giant creatures, after endless generations of fish and families of molluscs, man finally arrives, the degenerate product of a grandiose type, his mould perhaps broken by his Creator. Fired by his retrospection, these timid humans, born but yesterday, can now leap across chaos, sing an endless hymn, and configure the history of the universe in a sort of retrograde Apocalypse.
— Honoré de Balzac
From 'La Peau de Chagrin' (1831). As translated as by Helen Constantine The Wild Ass’s Skin (2012), 19.
Science quotes on:  |  Apocalypse (2)  |  Arrive (7)  |  Broken (10)  |  Chaos (54)  |  Creator (32)  |  Creature (96)  |  Degenerate (3)  |  Dynasty (5)  |  Endless (19)  |  Evolution (431)  |  Fish (66)  |  Generation (88)  |  Grandiose (2)  |  History (238)  |  Human (289)  |  Hymn (2)  |  Mold (20)  |  Product (49)  |  Retrograde (3)  |  Timid (2)  |  Universe (421)

As one penetrates from seam to seam, from stratum to stratum and discovers, under the quarries of Montmartre or in the schists of the Urals, those animals whose fossilized remains belong to antediluvian civilizations, the mind is startled to catch a vista of the milliards of years and the millions of peoples which the feeble memory of man and an indestructible divine tradition have forgotten and whose ashes heaped on the surface of our globe, form the two feet of earth which furnish us with bread and flowers.
— Honoré de Balzac
From 'La Peau de Chagrin' (1831). As translated as The Wild Ass’s Skin (1906) trans. Herbert J. Hunt, The Wild Ass's Skin (1977), 40-1.
Science quotes on:  |  Animal (248)  |  Antediluvian (3)  |  Ash (13)  |  Bread (15)  |  Civilization (135)  |  Discover (72)  |  Divine (29)  |  Earth (389)  |  Feeble (11)  |  Flower (52)  |  Forget (21)  |  Fossil (96)  |  Furnish (16)  |  Globe (29)  |  Heap (11)  |  Indestructible (6)  |  Memory (68)  |  Million (62)  |  Mind (417)  |  Montmartre (3)  |  Penetrate (12)  |  People (105)  |  Quarry (8)  |  Schist (4)  |  Stratum (7)  |  Surface (58)  |  Tradition (25)  |  Under (7)  |  Urals (2)  |  Vista (4)

As they discover, from strata to strata and from layer to layer, deep in the quarries of Montmartre or the schists of the Urals, these creatures whose fossilized remains belong to antediluvian civilizations, it will strike terror into your soul to see many millions of years, many thousands of races forgotten by the feeble memory of mankind and by the indestructible divine tradition, and whose piles of ashes on the surface of our globe form the two feet of soil which gives us our bread and our flowers.
— Honoré de Balzac
From 'La Peau de Chagrin' (1831). As translated as by Helen Constantine The Wild Ass’s Skin (2012), 19.
Science quotes on:  |  Antediluvian (3)  |  Ash (13)  |  Bread (15)  |  Civilization (135)  |  Creature (96)  |  Discover (72)  |  Divine (29)  |  Feeble (11)  |  Flower (52)  |  Forget (21)  |  Fossil (96)  |  Globe (29)  |  Indestructible (6)  |  Layer (13)  |  Mankind (159)  |  Memory (68)  |  Million (62)  |  Montmartre (3)  |  Pile (4)  |  Quarry (8)  |  Race (60)  |  Schist (4)  |  Soil (46)  |  Soul (86)  |  Stratum (7)  |  Strike (15)  |  Surface (58)  |  Terror (12)  |  Thousand (75)  |  Tradition (25)  |  Urals (2)  |  Year (140)

Certainly Lord Byron has expressed in words some aspects of spiritual turmoil; but our immortal natural historian has reconstructed worlds from bleached bones.
— Honoré de Balzac
From 'La Peau de Chagrin' (1831). As translated as The Wild Ass’s Skin (1906) trans. Herbert J. Hunt, The Wild Ass’s Skin (1977), 40-1.
Science quotes on:  |  Bleached (3)  |  Bone (51)  |  Lord George Gordon Byron (19)  |  Express (20)  |  Immortal (10)  |  Reconstruct (3)  |  Spiritual (18)  |  Turmoil (4)  |  World (466)

Cuvier … brings the void to life again, without uttering abracadabras, he excavates a fragment of gypsum, spies a footprint and shouts: “Look!” And suddenly the marbles are teeming with creatures, the dead come to life again, the world turns!
— Honoré de Balzac
From 'La Peau de Chagrin' (1831). As translated as by Helen Constantine The Wild Ass’s Skin (2012), 19.
Science quotes on:  |  Abracadabra (2)  |  Creature (96)  |  Cuvier_George (2)  |  Dead (27)  |  Excavate (2)  |  Footprint (9)  |  Fossil (96)  |  Fragment (21)  |  Gypsum (2)  |  Life (698)  |  Marble (8)  |  Turn (38)  |  Utter (3)  |  Void (14)  |  World (466)

Have you ever plunged into the immensity of space and time by reading the geological treatises of Cuvier? Borne away on the wings of his genius, have you hovered over the illimitable abyss of the past as if a magician’s hand were holding you aloft?
— Honoré de Balzac
From 'La Peau de Chagrin' (1831). As translated by Herbert J. Hunt in The Wild Ass’s Skin (1977), 40-41.
Science quotes on:  |  Abyss (17)  |  Aloft (4)  |  Baron Georges Cuvier (28)  |  Genius (150)  |  Geological (3)  |  Hover (3)  |  Immensity (12)  |  Limitless (4)  |  Magician (9)  |  Past (80)  |  Plunge (3)  |  Read (49)  |  Space (116)  |  Time (309)  |  Treatise (14)  |  Wing (28)

Have you ever plunged into the immensity of time and space by reading the geological tracts of Cuvier? Transported by his genius, have you hovered over the limitless abyss of the past, as if held aloft by a magician’s hand?
— Honoré de Balzac
From 'La Peau de Chagrin' (1831). As translated as by Helen Constantine The Wild Ass’s Skin (2012), 19.
Science quotes on:  |  Abyss (17)  |  Aloft (4)  |  Baron Georges Cuvier (28)  |  Genius (150)  |  Geological (3)  |  Hand (65)  |  Hold (35)  |  Hover (3)  |  Immensity (12)  |  Limitless (4)  |  Magician (9)  |  Past (80)  |  Plunge (3)  |  Read (49)  |  Space (116)  |  Time (309)  |  Tract (3)  |  Transport (8)

Is not Cuvier the great poet of our era? Byron has given admirable expression to certain moral conflicts, but our immortal naturalist has reconstructed past worlds from a few bleached bones; has rebuilt cities, like Cadmus, with monsters’ teeth; has animated forests with all the secrets of zoology gleaned from a piece of coal; has discovered a giant population from the footprints of a mammoth.
— Honoré de Balzac
From 'La Peau de Chagrin' (1831). As translated by Ellen Marriage in The Wild Ass’s Skin (1906), 21-22.
Science quotes on:  |  Admirable (9)  |  Animated (4)  |  Bleached (3)  |  Bone (51)  |  Lord George Gordon Byron (19)  |  Coal (39)  |  Baron Georges Cuvier (28)  |  Discover (72)  |  Expression (63)  |  Footprint (9)  |  Forest (72)  |  Giant (24)  |  Glean (2)  |  Immortal (10)  |  Mammoth (7)  |  Monster (15)  |  Naturalist (47)  |  Past (80)  |  Poet (49)  |  Population (57)  |  Reconstruct (3)  |  Secret (78)  |  Tooth (19)  |  World (466)  |  Zoology (22)

Is not Cuvier the greatest poet of our age? Of course Lord Byron has set down in fine words certain of our souls’ longings; but our immortal naturalist has reconstructed whole worlds out of bleached bones. Like Cadmus, he has rebuilt great cities from teeth, repopulated thousands of forests with all the mysteries of zoology from a few pieces of coal, discovered races of giants in the foot of a mammoth.
— Honoré de Balzac
From 'La Peau de Chagrin' (1831). As translated as by Helen Constantine The Wild Ass’s Skin (2012), 19.
Science quotes on:  |  Bleached (3)  |  Bone (51)  |  Build (47)  |  Lord George Gordon Byron (19)  |  City (26)  |  Coal (39)  |  Cuvier_George (2)  |  Discover (72)  |  Foot (21)  |  Forest (72)  |  Giant (24)  |  Immortal (10)  |  Longing (8)  |  Mammoth (7)  |  Mystery (99)  |  Naturalist (47)  |  Poet (49)  |  Populate (2)  |  Race (60)  |  Reconstruct (3)  |  Soul (86)  |  Thousand (75)  |  Tooth (19)  |  Whole (71)  |  World (466)  |  Zoology (22)

No man should marry until he has studied anatomy and dissected at least one woman.
— Honoré de Balzac
The Physiology of Marriage (2000), Meditation V, Aphorism 28, 41.
Science quotes on:  |  Anatomy (55)  |  Dissection (24)  |  Man (322)  |  Marriage (27)

Physically, a man is a man for a much longer time than a woman is a woman.
— Honoré de Balzac
The Complete Works of Honoré de Balzac: The Physiology of Marriage (1901), 39.
Science quotes on:  |  Man (322)  |  Woman (63)

Science is the language of the temporal world; love is that of the spiritual world. Man, indeed, describes more than he explains; while the angelic spirit sees and understands. Science saddens man; love enraptures the angel; science is still seeking; love has found.
— Honoré de Balzac
The Works of Honoré de Balzac (1896), Vol. 19, 80.
Science quotes on:  |  Describe (18)  |  Explain (34)  |  Find (126)  |  Language (126)  |  Love (111)  |  Man (322)  |  Sadness (17)  |  Science (1284)  |  See (94)  |  Seek (34)  |  Spiritual (18)  |  Understanding (307)  |  World (466)

Six weeks with a fever is an eternity.
— Honoré de Balzac
Attributed as a conversation on his death bed with his doctor. Quoted in Mary Frances Sandars, Honoré de Balzac, His Life and Writings (1905), 352, with footnote stating doubts by Vicomte de Spoelberch de Lovenjoul (an authority on Balzac) as to its accuracy when originally recounted in an article by Arsène Houssaye in Figaro (20 Aug 1883), over three decades after Balzac's death.
Science quotes on:  |  Eternity (30)  |  Fever (10)

The fame of surgeons resembles the fame of actors, who live only during their lifetime and whose talent is no longer appreciable once they have disappeared.
— Honoré de Balzac
The Atheist's Mass. In Wallace Fowlie (ed.), French Stories (1990), 47.
Science quotes on:  |  Actor (4)  |  Death (237)  |  Surgeon (37)  |  Talent (43)

When the fossil bones of animals belonging to civilisations before the Flood are turned up in bed after bed and layer upon layer of the quarries of Montmartre or among the schists of the Ural range, the soul receives with dismay a glimpse of millions of peoples forgotten by feeble human memory and unrecognised by permanent divine tradition, peoples whose ashes cover our globe with two feet of earth that yields bread to us and flowers.
— Honoré de Balzac
From 'La Peau de Chagrin' (1831). As translated by Ellen Marriage in The Wild Ass’s Skin (1906), 21.
Science quotes on:  |  Animal (248)  |  Bone (51)  |  Bread (15)  |  Civilisation (13)  |  Dismay (4)  |  Earth (389)  |  Feeble (11)  |  Flood (24)  |  Flower (52)  |  Forget (21)  |  Fossil (96)  |  Glimpse (7)  |  Human (289)  |  Memory (68)  |  Million (62)  |  Montmartre (3)  |  People (105)  |  Quarry (8)  |  Schist (4)  |  Soul (86)  |  Yield (18)


Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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