Ernest Renan


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Joseph Ernest Renan (28 February 1823 – 2 October 1892) was a French expert of Middle East ancient languages and civilizations, philosopher and writer, devoted to his native province of Brittany. He is best known for his influential historical works on early Christianity and his political theories, especially concerning nationalism and national identity. more »

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  • ''As a rule, all heroism is due to a lack of reflection, and thus it is necessary to maintain a mass of imbeciles. If they once understand themselves the ruling men will be lost.''
    Ernest Renan (1823-1892), French writer, critic, scholar. Orlando, in Caliban, act 2, sc. 1.
  • ''I can die when I wish to: that is my elixir of life.''
    Ernest Renan (1823-1892), French writer, critic, scholar. Quoted in H. W. Wardman, Ernest Renan: a Critical Biography, "The Republic," (1964).
  • ''You may take great comfort from the fact that suffering inwardly for the sake of truth proves abundantly that one loves it and marks one out as being of the elect.''
    Ernest Renan (1823-1892), French writer, critic, scholar. Quoted in H.W. Wardman, "Saint Sulpice and the Hidden God," Ernest Renan: a Critical Biograp...
  • ''To be free in an age like ours, one must be in a position of authority. That in itself would be enough to make me ambitious.''
    Ernest Renan (1823-1892), French writer, critic, scholar. Letter, 1841, to his elder sister Henriette. Quoted in H.W. Wardman, "Saint Sulpice and the ...
  • ''In morals, truth is but little prized when it is a mere sentiment, and only attains its full value when realized in the world as fact.''
    Ernest Renan (1823-1892), French writer, critic, scholar. The Life of Jesus, ch. 5 (1863).
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