Quotes by Natalie Clifford Barney on Life and Love

quotes by quotes by Natalie Clifford Barney

Natalie Clifford Barney (1876 – 1972) was an American-born poet and novelist also known for her epigrams and pensées. She was an expat living the high life in early twentieth-century Paris where she presided over a famous literary salon. Here you’ll find a selection of quotes by Natalie Clifford Barney on life and love, from a woman who lived and loved to the fullest.

Though she published ten critically acclaimed books, she seems to be equally remembered for her colorful personal life as one of the movers and shakers of the Parisian lesbian circles of the time. She also used the wealth and privilege she was born into as a means of promoting other talented writers and artists.

She most always wrote in French, saying that it allowed her to fully express her emotions, even though English was her native language. Many of her works were based on her own love affairs and friendships, the best known of which is Amants Féminins ou les Troisième (Women Lovers or the Third Woman). This semi-autobiographical novel was one of very few of Barney’s books that were translated into English.

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alie clifford barney

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“If we keep an open mind, too much is likely to fall into it.”

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“It’s necessary to use suffering. Otherwise, one is used by it.”

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“Lovers should also have their days off.”

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“Novels are longer than life.”

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Natalie Clifford Barney and Renee Vivien
Natalie Clifford Barney with her longtime lover, Renee Vivien
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“When you’re in love you never really know whether your elation comes from the qualities of the one you love, or if it attributes them to her; whether the light which surrounds her like a halo comes from you, from her, or from the meeting of your sparks.”

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“I have sometimes lost friends, but friends have never lost me.” 

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“It is time for dead languages to be quiet.”

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“Fatalism is the lazy man’s way of accepting the inevitable.”

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“When she lowers her eyes she seems to hold all the beauty in the world between her eyelids; when she raises them I see only myself in her gaze.” 

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“Renouncement: the heroism of mediocrity.”

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“My queerness is not a vice, is not deliberate, and harms no one.”

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“Why grab possessions like thieves, or divide them like socialists when you can ignore them like wise men?”

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“Youth is not a question of years: one is young or old from birth.”

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“Time engraves our faces with all the tears we have not shed.”

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“Paris has always seemed … the only city where you can live and express yourself as you please.” 

Natalie Clifford Barney

Learn more about Natalie Clifford Barney
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“I want to be at once the bow, the arrow, and the target.” 

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“Entrepreneurship is the last refuge of the trouble making individual.”

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“At first, when an idea, a poem, or the desire to write takes hold of you, work is a pleasure, a delight, and your enthusiasm knows no bounds. But later on you work with difficulty, doggedly, desperately. For once you have committed yourself to a particular work, inspiration changes its form and becomes an obsession, like a love-affair… which haunts you night and day! Once at grips with a work, we must master it completely before we can recover our idleness.”

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“To be one’s own master is to be the slave of self.”

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“There are intangible realities which float near us, formless and without words; realities which no one has thought out, and which are excluded for lack of interpreters.”

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“Most virtue is a demand for greater seduction.”

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“How many inner resources one needs to tolerate a life of leisure without fatigue.”

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“The advantage of love at first sight is that it delays a second sight.”

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Women Lovers by Nataiie Clifford Barney

Natalie Clifford Barney page on Amazon
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