A Frenchman is self-assured because he regards himself personally both in mind and body as irresistibly attractive to men and women. An Englishman is self-assured as being a citizen of the best-organized state in the world and therefore, as an Englishman, always knows what he should do and knows that all he does as an Englishman is undoubtedly correct. An Italian is self-assured because he is excitable and easily forgets himself and other people. A Russian is self-assured just because he knows nothing and does not want to know anything, since he does not believe that anything can be known. The German’s self-assurance is worst of all, stronger and more repulsive than any other, because he imagines that he knows the truth — science — which he himself has invented but which is for him the absolute truth.
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- The sobs and tears of joy he had not foreseen rose with such force within him that his whole body shook and for a long time prevented him from speaking. Falling on his knees by her bed. He held his wife’s hand to his lips and kissed it, and her hand responded to his kisses with weak movement of finger. Meanwhile, at the foot of the bed, in the midwife’s expert hands, like the flame of a lamp, flickered the life of a human being who had never existed before…
- Christianity, with its doctrine of humility, of forgiveness, of love, is incompatible with the state, with its haughtiness, its violence, its punishment and its wars.
- Joy can be real only if people look on their life as a service, and have a definite object in life outside themselves and their personal happiness.
- To say that a work of art is good, but incomprehensible to the majority of men, is the same as saying of some kind of food that it is very good but that most people can’t eat it.
- Though it is possible to utter words only with the intention to fulfill the will of God, it is very difficult not to think about the impression which they will produce on men and not to form them accordingly. But deeds you can do quite unknown to men, only for God. And such deeds are the greatest joy that a man can experience.
- The best generals I have known were… stupid or absent-minded men. Not only does a good army commander not need any special qualities, on the contrary he needs the absence of the highest and best human attributes — love, poetry, tenderness, and philosophic inquiring doubt. He should be limited, firmly convinced that what he is doing is very important (otherwise he will not have sufficient patience), and only then will he be a brave leader. God forbid that he should be humane, should love, or pity, or think of what is just and unjust.