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Henryk Sienkiewicz (1846 – 1916)


Nobel Prize-winning Polish novelist, most famous for his novel Quo Vadis.
Henryk Sienkiewicz
I felt within me a boundless wealth of this almost mystic love, and a belief that this earthly chrysalis would come forth in another world a butterfly, which, detached from all earthly conditions would soar from planet to planet, till it became united to the spirit of All-Life. For the first time the thought crossed my mind that Aniela and I may pass away as bodies, but our love will survive and even be our immortality. "Who knows," I thought, "whether this be not the only existing form of immortality?" because I felt distinctly that there is something everlasting in my feeling, quite distinct from the ever changing phenomena of life.
Sienkiewicz quotes
Whoso loves beauty is unable for that very reason to love deformity. One may not believe in our gods, but it is possible to love them...
Sienkiewicz
O Petronius, thou hast seen what endurance and comfort that religion gives in misfortune, how much patience and courage before death; so come and see how much happiness it gives in ordinary, common days of life. People thus far did not know a God whom man could love, hence they did not love one another; and from that came their misfortune, for as light comes from the sun, so does happiness come from love. Neither lawgivers nor philosophers taught this truth, and it did not exist in Greece or Rome; and when I say, not in Rome, that means the whole world. The dry and cold teaching of the Stoics, to which virtuous people rally, tempers the heart as a sword is tempered, but it makes it indifferent rather than better.




Sienkiewicz Henryk quotes
I consider that in dialectics I am the equal of Socrates. As to women, I agree that each has three or four souls, but none of them a reasoning one.
Sienkiewicz Henryk
Pliny declares, as I hear, that he does not believe in the gods, but he believes in dreams; and perhaps he is right. My jests do not prevent me from thinking at times that in truth there is only one deity, eternal, creative, all-powerful, Venus Genetrix. She brings souls together; she unites bodies and things. Eros called the world out of chaos. Whether he did well is another question; but, since he did so, we should recognize his might, though we are free not to bless it.
Henryk Sienkiewicz quotes
In regard to this I have no illusion whatever. I have already said that since she changed our mutual relations into ideal feelings, they have become dear to her. Let it remain thus, provided they be dear to her.
Henryk Sienkiewicz
Of the man Sienkiewicz there is little to be obtained. Like all great creative geniuses, he is so completely identified with his work that even while his personality lives in his creations it eludes them. He offers us no confidences concerning himself, no opinions or prejudices. He does not divert the reader with personalities. He sets before us certain groups of men and women, whom certainly he knows and loves, and has lived among.
Sienkiewicz Henryk quotes
Neither realism nor romance alone will ever with its small plummet sound to its depths the human heart or its mystery; yet from the union of the two much perhaps might come.
We believe that just here lies the value of the novels of Henryk Sienkiewicz. He has worked out the problem of the modern novel so as to satisfy the most ardent realist, but he has worked it out upon great and broadly human lines. For him facts are facts indeed; but facts have souls as well as bodies. His genius is analytic, but also imaginative and constructive; it is not forever going upon botanizing excursions. He paints things and thoughts human.
The greatest genius assimilates unconsciously the best with which it comes in contact, and by a subtle chemistry of its own makes new combinations. Shakespeare, Dante, Goethe, and the realists, as well as all the forces of nature, have helped to make Henryk Sienkiewicz; yet he is not any one of them. He is never merely imitative. Originality and imaginative fire, a style vivid and strong, large humor, a profound pathos, a strong feeling for nature, and a deep reverence for the forms and the spirit of religion, the breath of the true cosmopolitan united with the intense patriotism of the Pole, a great creative genius, these are the most striking qualities of the work of this modern novelist, who has married Romance to Realism.
Sienkiewicz
No God has promised me immortality; hence no surprise meets me. At the same time thou art mistaken, Vinicius, in asserting that only thy God teaches man to die calmly. No. Our world knew, before thou wert born, that when the last cup was drained, it was time to go, time to rest, and it knows yet how to do that with calmness. Plato declares that virtue is music, that the life of a sage is harmony. If that be true, I shall die as I have lived, virtuously.
Sienkiewicz Henryk
Formerly character proved a strong curb for passions; in the present there is not much strength in character, and it grows less and less because of the prevailing scepticism, which is a decomposing element. It is like a bacillus breeding in the human soul; it destroys the resistant power against the physiological craving of the nerves, of nerves diseased. The modern man is conscious of everything, and cannot find a remedy against anything.
Henryk Sienkiewicz
Not Nero, but God, rules the world.




Henryk Sienkiewicz quotes
If it be a great misfortune to love another man's wife, be she ever so commonplace, it is an infinitely greater misfortune to love a virtuous woman. There is something in my relations to Aniela of which I never heard or read; there is no getting out of it, no end. A solution, whether it be a calamity or the fulfilment of desire, is something, but this is only an enchanted circle. If she remain immovable and I do not cease loving her, it will be an everlasting torment, and nothing else. And I have the despairing conviction that neither of us will give way.
Henryk Sienkiewicz
I know from experience that to one who thinks much and feels deeply, it often seems that he has only to put down his thoughts and feelings in order to produce something altogether out of the common; yet as soon as he sets to work he falls into a certain mannerism of style and common phraseology; his thoughts do not come spontaneously, and one might almost say that it is not the mind that directs the pen, but the pen leads the mind into common, empty artificiality.
Sienkiewicz quotes
It is an altogether wrong idea that the modern product of civilization is less susceptible to love. I sometimes think it is the other way.
Sienkiewicz Henryk
Aniela knows perfectly that I live for her only, exist through her; that all my thoughts belong to her, my actions have only her in view; that she is to me an issue of life and death; and in spite of all that she calmly decides to go away. Whether I should perish or beat my head against the wall, she never so much as considered. She will be more at ease when she ceases to see me writhing like a beetle stuck on a pin; she will be no longer afraid of my kissing her feet furtively, or startling that virtuous conscience. How can she hesitate when such excellent peace can be got, at so small a price as cutting somebody's throat! Thoughts like these spun across my brain by thousands.
Sienkiewicz Henryk quotes
A time will come when under changed circumstances she will recover her beauty. I thought of it to-day and at once asked myself what would be our relations towards each other in the future, and whether it would make any change. I am certain it will not. I know already how it feels to live without her, and shall not do anything which might make her cast me off.
Henryk Sienkiewicz
There is within us a moral instinct which forbids us to rejoice at the death of even an enemy.
Henryk Sienkiewicz quotes
Aniela knew very well that her departure would be to me a more dangerous catastrophe than a wound on my head or the loss of an arm or leg; and yet she did not hesitate a moment. I was perfectly aware that it was all her doing. She wanted to be near her husband, and what would become of me was not taken into account.
Henryk Sienkiewicz
A man who leaves memoirs, whether well or badly written, provided they be sincere, renders a service to future psychologists and writers, giving them not only a faithful picture, but likewise human documents that may be relied upon.
Sienkiewicz Henryk
I should be blind if I did not perceive that some power as strong as the universe is parting us. What this power is, what it is called, I do not know. I know only that if I knelt down, beat my head on the floor, prayed, and cried out for mercy, I might move a mountain sooner than move that power. As nothing now could part me from Aniela but death, she must die. This may be very logical, but I do not consent to part from her.


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