Famous quotes explained: « History is a novel that has been, the novel a story that could have been. », Edmond and Jules Goncourt.
This quote from Edmond and Jules Goncourt, great naturalist writers and creators of the famous literary prize, is built on a chiasmus, a kind of parallelism that begins and ends with story and repeats novel in the middle. It reminds us of the imaginary nature of the novel through the use of the conditional: who could have been. The fictional novel does not belong to reality but can approach it.
The first part of the quote emphasizes the narrative that constitutes the story, with its characters, its events, and its twists. The story is novelistic because it stages human beings. However, it is real. The use of the past tense obviously differentiates historical reality from the unreality of the novel: a novel that has been.
The narrative and eventful richness of the story makes it a major source of inspiration for writers, especially those of the 19th century, who witness the political and social upheavals of that time.
History is a novel that has been, the novel a story that could have been.
Links to Another quotes: Famous quotes explained: « The work exposes, the man disposes », Criticism and truth, Roland Barthes, 1966.Famous quotes explained: « We may brave human laws, but we cannot resist natural ones », Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea , Jules Verne, 1870.Famous quotes explained: « Reading all good books is like having a conversation with the most honest people of past centuries. »Descartes, Discourse on Method, 1637. Famous quotes explained: « tyrants are only great because we are on our knees », Discourse on Voluntary Servitude La Boétie, 1576.Famous quotes explained: « Politeness consists in appearing to forget oneself for others », The Lily of the Valley, Balzac, 1836. Famous quotes explained: « And to esteem everyone is to esteem nothing », The Misanthrope, Molière, 1667.Famous quotes explained: « Work keeps three great evils away from us: boredom, vice, and need. », Candide, Voltaire, 1759. Famous quotes explained: « Without the freedom to criticize, there is no genuine praise. » Act V, Scene 3., The Marriage of Figaro, Beaumarchais, 1784.Famous quotes explained: « One must eat to live, not live to eat. »The Miser, Act III, Scene V, Molière, 1668. Famous Quotes explained: « In war, it is the war of men; in peace, it is the war of ideas. », Fragments, Hugo, 1885. Famous Quotes explained: « I am weary of museums, cemeteries of the arts. » , Lamartine, Voyage en Orient, 1835. Famous Quotes Explained: « What is well conceived is clearly expressed. And the words to say it come easily. », Nicolas Boileau, The Art of Poetry, 1674. Famous Quotes Explained: « One sees clearly with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eyes. », The Little Prince, Saint-Exupéry, 1943. Famous quotes explained: « Education is given by the family; instruction is owed by the state. », Victor Hugo, Words and deeds, 1876. Famous Quotes explained: « One person is missing, and everything is depopulated. » Méditations poétiques, « L’Isolement », Lamartine, 1820. Famous quotes explained: « To love is to know how to say ‘I love you’ without speaking. » Victor Hugo
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