Tuesday, 18 June 2013

The Intimate Journal of Henri Amiel: December 26, 1868

December 26, 1868

If men are always more or less deceived on the subject of women, it is because that they forget that they and women do not speak altogether the same language, and that words have not the same weight or the same meaning for them, especially in questions of feeling. Whether from shyness or precaution or artifice, a woman never speaks out her whole thought, and moreover what she herself knows of it is but a part of what it really is. Complete frankness seems to be impossible to her, and complete self-knowledge seems to be forbidden her. If she is a sphinx to us, it is because she is a riddle of doubtful meaning even to herself. She has no need of perfidy, for she is mystery itself. A woman is something fugitive, irrational, indeterminable, illogical, and contradictory. A great deal of forbearance ought to be shown her, and a good deal of prudence exercised with regard to her, for she may bring about innumerable evils without knowing it, capable of all kinds of devotion, and of all kinds of treason, "monstre incompréhensible,'' raised to the second power, she is at once the delight and the terror of men.


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The more a man loves, the more he suffers. The sum of possible grief for each soul is in proportion to its degree of perfection.
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Doubt of the reality of love ends by making us doubt everything. The final result of all deceptions and dis- appointments is atheism, which may not always yield up its name and secret, but which lurks, a masked specter, within the depths of thought, as the last supreme ex- plainer. "Man is what his love is," and follows the for- tunes of his love.
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