Short & Sweet Quotes by Colette

Colette (French author), older

Colette (1873 – 1954), the noted French author, confidently expressed her experiences of femininity and sexuality through strong female eponymous characters like Claudine and Gigi. She broke away from her first husband, who sought to control her life and work, and reveled in her freedom.

For the remainder of her career, Colette wrote prolifically, producing many novels and occasionally worked as a journalist. She developed arthritis later in life, which greatly diminished her ability to work and travel. After she died, Colette was the first woman given a state funeral in the country. Here are some favorite short and sweet quotes by Colette:

“You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.” 

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“Total absence of humor renders life impossible.” (Chance Acquaintances, 1952)

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“To a poet, silence is an acceptable response, even a flattering one.” (Paris From My Window, 1944)

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“Writing only leads to more writing.”

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“We only do well the things we like doing.” (Prisons and Paradise, 1932)

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“Sit down and put down everything that comes into your head and then you’re a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.” (Casual Chance, 1964)

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Sidonie Gabrielle Colette

Learn more about Colette

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“Hope costs nothing.”

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“If we want to be sincere, we must admit that there is a well-nourished love and an ill-nourished love. And the rest is literature.”

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“I have found my voice again and the art of using it …” (The Vagabond, 1910)

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“Be happy. It’s one way of being wise.”

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“Look for a long time at what pleases you, and longer still at what pains you …”

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“I love my past, I love my present. I am not ashamed of what I have had, and I am not sad because I no longer have it.” (The Last of Cheri, 1926)

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“The writer who loses his self-doubt, who gives way as he grows old to a sudden euphoria, to prolixity, should stop writing immediately: the time has come for him to lay aside his pen.” (Speech on being elected to the Belgian Academy; as quoted in “Lady of Letters”)

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Colette - 1907, in her dance hall days

9 Facts About Colette, Passionate and Prolific French Author

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“Boredom helps one to make decisions.” (Gigi, 1945)

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“There are days when solitude is a heady wine that intoxicates you with freedom, other when it is a bitter tonic, and still others when it is a poison that makes you beat your head against the wall.”

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“It’s so curious: one can resist tears and ‘behave’ very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer … and everything collapses.”

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the vagabond cover - Colette

You might also like: The Vagabond by Colette (1910)

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“Time spent with a cat is never wasted.”

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“Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet.”

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“There are no ordinary cats.”

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“In its early stages, insomnia is almost an oasis in which those who have to think or suffer darkly take refuge.”

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“No one asked you to be happy. Get to work.”

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“What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner.”

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Colette French author quote

9 Facts About Colette, Prolific and Passionate French Author

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“When she raises her eyelids, it’s as if she were taking off all her clothes.”

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“The woman who thinks she is intelligent demands equal rights with men. A woman who is intelligent does not.”

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“If he’s getting married, he’s not longer interesting.” (Gigi)

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“I want nothing from love, in short, but love.”

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 “Books, books, books. It was not that I read so much. I read and re-read the same ones. But all of them were necessary to me. Their presence, their smell, the letters of their titles, and the texture of their leather bindings.”
 
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“To a poet, silence is an acceptable response, even a flattering one.”

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“Music is love in search of a word.”

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“But what is the heart, madame? It’s worth less than people think. it’s quite accommodating, it accepts anything. You give it whatever you have, it’s not very particular. But the body… Ha! That’s something else again! It has a cultivated taste, as they say, it knows what it wants. A heart doesn’t choose, and one always ends up by loving.”

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“So now, whenever I despair, I no longer expect my end, but some bit of luck, some commonplace little miracle which, like a glittering link, will mend again the necklace of my days.”

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“Then, bidding farewell to the Knick-Knack, I went to collect the few personal belongings which, at that time, I held to be invaluable: my cat, my resolve to travel, and my solitude.”

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“If I can’t have too many truffles, I’ll do without truffles.”

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Collected stories of Colette

Colette page on Amazon

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“To write is to pour one’s innermost self passionately upon the tempting paper, at such frantic speed that sometimes one’s hand struggles and rebels, overdriven by the impatient god which guides it — and to find, next day, in place of the golden bough that bloomed miraculously in that dazzling hour, a withered bramble and a stunted flower.” (The Vagabond)

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“It is the image in the mind that links us to our lost treasures; but it is the loss that shapes the image, gathers the flowers, weaves the garland.” (My Mother’s House & Sido)

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“The lovesick, the betrayed, and the jealous all smell alike.”

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“Jealousy is not at all low, but it catches us humbled and bowed down, at first sight. For it is the only suffering that we endure without ever becoming used to it.”

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Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette by Judith Thurman

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“The only virtue on which I pride myself is my self-doubt; when a writer loses her self-doubt, the time has come to lay aside her pen.”

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“I have no equals, I have only my fellow wayfarers.”

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“At the top of the iron staircase leading to the stage, the good, dry, dusty warmth wraps me round like a comfortable dirty cloak.” (The Vagabond)

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“People who are perfectly sane and happy don’t make good literature, alas.”

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