... there is no objective criticism. The good critic is the one who relates the adventures of his soul in the midst of masterpieces.
I have always been inclined to take life as a spectacle.
I am sure of very few things in this world.... I should be tempted to put very large question-marks after all that I write, all that I say, and all that I think.
The rights of thought are superior to all.... Let us not distrust thought. Far from subjecting it to our morality, let us subject to it everything else. Thought is all of man. We know only one reality, thought. It is thought that creates the universe.
Suffering! we owe to it all that is good in us, all that gives value to life; we owe to it pity, we owe to it courage, we owe to it all the virtues.
I know that composition usually passes for the first necessity of the art of writing. One recognizes in their (Rabelais and Cervantes) works a far sturdier unity than that of a skilfully woven plot. It is the coherence of their mind. The best books, in my opinion, he says, are those that give the most food for thought, and on the most diverse things.
The only thing that counts, style.
The finest words in the world are only vain sounds, if you cannot comprehend them.
Words are ideas. One reasons correctly only with strict syntax and a precise vocabulary.
Born writers make their own rule, or rather, they have none. They change style at every moment, at the dictation of inspiration.
If there is no really simple style, there are styles that appear simple, and precisely these seem destined to eternal youth. They owe this fortunate appearance not to the fact that they are less rich than the others in diverse elements, but to the fact that they form a whole in which all the parts are so well blended as to be indistinguishable.... Simple style is like white light. It is complex but its complexity is not obvious.
Every thinker in the world has said it or will say it: Ernest Renan was, of all our contemporaries, the one who exercised the greatest influence on cultivated minds and who added the most to their culture.