Inspirational Honoré de Balzac Quotes on Humanity and Human Weakness

Honoré de Balzac was born on May 20, 1799 to Bernard-François Balssa and Anne-Charlotte-Laure Sallambier. His father was aloof, and despite having a mother to nurse him, he sent Honoré to live with a wet nurse. The distance from his parents had a huge impact on young Honoré. He buried himself in all the books and publications he could find.

Honoré de Balzac worked in a law office after completing his studies but never felt he belonged. He realized his passion for writing and decided to pursue it as a full-time career. His father was not happy with this decision.

As it turns out, he was an exceptional talent who wrote a series of 90+ novels and short stories. His most well-known work is the sequence La Comédie Humaine. Based on his keen observation of his surroundings and the ways of society, he was deemed one of the founders of realism in Europe.

Thought-Provoking Honoré de Balzac Quotes

1. “When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt.” – Honoré de Balzac

2. “To live in the presence of great truths and eternal laws, to be led by permanent ideals – that is what keeps a man patient when the world ignores him, and calm and unspoiled when the world praises him.” – Honoré de Balzac

3. “Can you find a man who loves the occupation that provides him with a livelihood? Professions are like marriages; we end by feeling only their inconveniences.” – Honoré de Balzac

4. “There are two histories: official history, lying, and then secret history, where you find the real causes of events.” – Honoré de Balzac

5. “The more one judges, the less one loves.” – Honoré de Balzac

6. “Life cannot go on without much forgetting.” – Honoré de Balzac

7. “Do you know what the hardest thing in life is? To make a choice.” – Honoré de Balzac

8. “Memories beautify life, but the capacity to forget makes it bearable.” – Honoré de Balzac

9. “When women love us, they forgive us everything, even our crimes; when they do not love us, they give us credit for nothing, not even our virtues.” – Honoré de Balzac

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10. “For passion, be it observed, brings insight with it; it can give a sort of intelligence to simpletons, fools, and idiots, especially during youth.” – Honoré de Balzac

book of Honoré de Balzac
11. “It is a singular fact that most men of action incline to the theory of fatalism, while the greater part of men of thought believe in providence.” – Honoré de Balzac

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12. “The victory always has a lot of parents but the defeat is always an orphan.” – Honoré de Balzac

13. “It is easy to sit up and take notice, what is difficult is getting up and taking action.” – Honoré de Balzac

14. “Solitude is fine, but you need someone to tell you that solitude is fine.” – Honoré de Balzac

15. “First love is a kind of vaccination which saves a man from catching the complaint the second time.” – Honoré de Balzac

16. “How natural it is to destroy what we cannot possess, to deny what we do not understand, and to insult what we envy!” – Honoré de Balzac

17. “The motto of chivalry is also the motto of wisdom; to serve all, but love only one.” – Honoré de Balzac

18. “A mother’s happiness is like a beacon, lighting up the future but reflected also on the past in the guise of fond memories.” – Honoré de Balzac

19. “It is the mark of a great man that he puts to flight all ordinary calculations. He is at once sublime and touching, childlike and of the race of giants.” – Honoré de Balzac

20. “Passion is universal humanity. Without it, religion, history, romance and art would be useless.” – Honoré de Balzac

21. “The duration of passion is proportionate with the original resistance of the woman.” – Honoré de Balzac

22. “A woman knows the face of the man she loves as a sailor knows the open sea.” – Honoré de Balzac

23. “It is as absurd to say that a man can’t love one woman all the time as it is to say that a violinist needs several violins to play the same piece of music.” – Honoré de Balzac

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Honoré de Balzac portrait
24. “Love has its own instinct, finding the way to the heart, as the feeblest insect finds the way to its flower, with a will which nothing can dismay nor turn aside.” – Honoré de Balzac

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25. “The press is like a woman: sublime when it lies, it will not let go until it has forced you to believe it. The public, like a foolish husband, always succumbs.” – Honoré de Balzac

26. “It is easier to be a lover than a husband for the simple reason that it is more difficult to be witty every day than to say pretty things from time to time.” – Honoré de Balzac

27. “True love is eternal, infinite, and always like itself. It is equal and pure.” – Honoré de Balzac

28. “Nobody loves a woman because she is handsome or ugly, stupid or intelligent. We love because we love.” – Honoré de Balzac

29. “We exaggerate misfortune and happiness alike. We are never as bad off or as happy as we say we are.” – Honoré de Balzac

30. “Behind every great fortune lies a great crime.” – Honoré de Balzac

31. “Hatred is the vice of narrow souls; they feed it with all their littleness and make it the pretext of base tyrannies.” – Honoré de Balzac

32. “Love is a game in which one always cheats.” – Honoré de Balzac

33. “The smallest flower is a thought, a life answering to some feature of the Great Whole, of whom they have a persistent intuition.” – Honoré de Balzac

34. “Nature makes only dumb animals. We owe the fools to society.” – Honoré de Balzac

35. “The life of a man who deliberately runs through his fortune often becomes a business speculation; his friends, his pleasures, patrons, and acquaintances are his capital.” – Honoré de Balzac

grave of Honoré de Balzac

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36. “The secret of great fortunes without apparent cause is a crime forgotten, for it was properly done.” – Honoré de Balzac

37. “Vocations which we wanted to pursue, but didn’t, bleed, like colors, on the whole of our existence.” – Honoré de Balzac

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38. “When Religion and Royalty are swept away, the people will attack the great, and after the great, they will fall upon the rich.” – Honoré de Balzac

39. “The good we do to others is spoilt unless we efface ourselves so completely that those we help have no sense of inferiority.” – Honoré de Balzac

40. “Courtesy is only a thin veneer on the general selfishness.” – Honoré de Balzac

41. “Power is action; the electoral principle is discussion. No political action is possible when discussion is permanently established.” – Honoré de Balzac

French Author Spotlight: Honoré de Balzac

A brief introduction to Honoré de Balzac and his Comédie Humaine Cycle.


Honoré de Balzac has inspired many writers and authors including Charles Dickens, Henry James, Gustave Flaubert, and Émile Zola. As a young child, he was a passionate reader, and the habit developed into a career that provided him with the platform to express his thoughts and feelings.

We hope these Honoré de Balzac quotes helped you learn more about one of the best French authors of all time!

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Image credits:

Filo gèn’ at French Wikipedia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Pappa Goriot av Honoré de Balzac” by cwasteson is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Jean Alfred Gérard-Séguin, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Honoré de Balzac’s Grave, Pere Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France.” by Jim Linwood is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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