90 Marcel Proust Quotes (On Life, Love, Suffering)

By Maxime Lagacé

Maxime is the founder of WisdomQuotes. He has been collecting quotes since 2004. His goal? To help you develop a calm and peaceful mind. Learn more about him on his about page.

Top 10 QuotesLife QuotesArt QuotesLove QuotesSuffering QuotesTime QuotesTakeaways – Further Readings

marcel proust quotes wisdom
You’ll love these top 90 Marcel Proust quotes.

You will learn:

  • The importance of introspection and observation
  • The value of time and memories
  • How to cope with suffering

I first discovered Marcel Proust back in 2012 in the book Mastery, by Robert Greene.

There was a complete chapter on him.

He talked about how Proust used his observation skills to write his masterpiece “In Search of Lost Time“.

Then, I started collecting some of his best words on human relationships, art, love, desire, and society.

I hope you’ll learn and delight as much as I did with Proust’s quotes.


The Top 10 Marcel Proust Quotes

marcel proust quotes real voyage discovery landscapes eyes wisdom

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. Marcel Proust

My destination is no longer a place, rather a new way of seeing. Marcel Proust

We don’t receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us. Marcel Proust

The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open. Marcel Proust

Do not wait for life. Do not long for it. Be aware, always and at every moment, that the miracle is in the here and now. Marcel Proust

marcel proust quotes reality endurable nourish fantasy wisdom

If we are to make reality endurable, we must all nourish a fantasy or two. Marcel Proust

No man is a complete mystery except to himself. Marcel Proust

One never knows his own happiness; one is never as sad as he thinks. Marcel Proust

Things don’t change, but by and by our wishes change. Marcel Proust

Desire makes everything blossom; possession makes everything wither and fade. Marcel Proust


Marcel Proust Quotes On Life

marcel proust quotes must never afraid far truth wisdom

We must never be afraid to go too far, for truth lies beyond. Marcel Proust

People are glad to be unhappy if they can believe that someone else is. Marcel Proust

Happiness serves hardly any other purpose than to make unhappiness possible. Marcel Proust

Always try to keep a patch of sky above your life. Marcel Proust

It was not evil that gave her the idea of pleasure, that seemed to her attractive; it was pleasure, rather, that seemed evil. Marcel Proust

When you work to please others you can’t succeed, but the things you do to satisfy yourself stand a chance of catching someone’s interest. Marcel Proust

When we have passed a certain age, the soul of the child we were and the souls of the dead from whom we have sprung come to lavish on us their riches and their spells. Marcel Proust

Truth is a point of view about things. Marcel Proust

marcel proust quotes creation world beginning time wisdom

The creation of the world did not occur at the beginning of time, it occurs every day. Marcel Proust

One cannot change, that is to say become another person, all while continuing to obey the sentiments of the person they used to be. Marcel Proust

An hour is not merely an hour, it is a vase full of scents and sounds and projects and climates. Marcel Proust

We live not alone but chained to a creature of a different kingdom: our body. Marcel Proust

Like many intellectuals, he was incapable of saying a simple thing in a simple way. Marcel Proust

The air there is saturated with the fine flower of a silence so nourishing, so succulent that I can’t advance through these rooms without a sort of greedy enjoyment. Marcel Proust

One must never miss an opportunity of quoting things by others which are always more interesting than those one thinks up oneself. Marcel Proust

marcel proust quotes cant learn truth intentions asking him wisdom

You can’t learn the truth about a man’s intentions by asking him. Marcel Proust

What we have not had to decipher, to elucidate by our own efforts, what was clear before we looked at it, is not ours. From ourselves comes only that which we drag forth from the obscurity which lies within us, that which to others is unknown. Marcel Proust

Illness is the doctor to whom we pay most heed; to kindness, to knowledge, we make promises only; pain we obey. Marcel Proust

The time which we have at our disposal every day is elastic; the passions that we feel expand it, those that we inspire contract it; and habit fills up what remains. Marcel Proust

It is always during a passing state of mind that we make lasting resolutions. Marcel Proust

The fixity of a habit is generally in direct proportion to its absurdity. Marcel Proust

A change in the weather is sufficient to recreate the world and ourselves. Marcel Proust


Marcel Proust Quotes On Art And Reading

marcel proust quotes art alone outside ourselves wisdom

By art alone we are able to get outside ourselves. Marcel Proust

There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book. Marcel Proust

Reading is that fruitful miracle of a communication in the midst of solitude. Marcel Proust

Thanks to art, instead of seeing one world only, our own, we see that world multiply itself and we have at our disposal as many worlds as there are original artists, worlds more different one from the other than those which revolve in infinite space, worlds which, centuries after the extinction of the fire from which their light first emanated, whether it is called Rembrandt or Vermeer, send us still each one its special radiance. Marcel Proust

A picture’s beauty does not depend on the things portrayed in it. Marcel Proust

Every reader, as he reads, is actually the reader of himself. The writer’s work is only a kind of optical instrument he provides the reader so he can discern what he might never have seen in himself without this book. The reader’s recognition in himself of what the book says is the proof of the book’s truth. Marcel Proust

Only through art can we emerge from ourselves and know what another person sees. Marcel Proust



Marcel Proust Quotes On Love

marcel proust quotes love striking example little reality wisdom

Love is a striking example of how little reality means to us. Marcel Proust

The heart does not lie. Marcel Proust

In reality, in love there is a permanent suffering which joy neutralizes, renders virtual, delays, but which can at any moment become what it would have become long earlier if one had not obtained what one wanted, atrocious. Marcel Proust

We always rediscover the things we love. Marcel Proust

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. Marcel Proust

We tremble for no one but ourselves, for the ones we love. When our happiness is no longer in their hands, how calm, how aloof, how bold we become next to them! Marcel Proust

Not for the first time, I sensed that those who know love and those who enjoy life are not the same people. Marcel Proust

In his younger days a man dreams of possessing the heart of the woman whom he loves; later, the feeling that he possesses the heart of a woman may be enough to make him fall in love with her. Marcel Proust

I had been mistaken in thinking that I could see clearly into my own heart. Marcel Proust

We love only what we do not wholly possess. Marcel Proust

In a separation it is the one who is not really in love who says the more tender things. Marcel Proust

Love is not vain because it is frustrated, but because it is fulfilled. The people we love turn to ashes when we possess them. Marcel Proust

Pleasures are like photographs: in the presence of the person we love, we take only negatives, which we develop later, at home, when we have at our disposal once more our inner dark room, the door of which it is strictly forbidden to open while others are present. Marcel Proust

marcel proust quotes loved much believe little wisdom

I have loved you so much that I believe I understand you a little. Marcel Proust

I felt that it was my duty not to limit myself to these opaque words and to try to examine my delight more closely. Marcel Proust

We once dreamt of possessing the heart of our beloved; later, the feeling that we already possess a woman’s heart could be all we need so that we fall in love. Marcel Proust

Everything great in the world is done by neurotics; they alone founded our religions and created our masterpieces. Marcel Proust

Let us leave pretty women to men with no imagination. Marcel Proust

It has been said that beauty is a promise of happiness. Conversely, the possibility of pleasure can be a beginning of beauty. Marcel Proust

In love, happiness is an abnormal state. Marcel Proust

Love is space and time made sensitive to the heart. Marcel Proust

Love is a reciprocal torture. Marcel Proust

Marcel Proust Quotes On Suffering

marcel proust quotes healed suffering experiencing full wisdom

We are healed of a suffering only by experiencing it to the full. Marcel Proust

Nine tenths of the ills from which intelligent people suffer spring from their intellect. Marcel Proust

Every reader finds himself. The writer’s work is merely a kind of optical instrument that makes it possible for the reader to discern what, without this book, he would perhaps never have seen in himself. Marcel Proust

It is often hard to bear the tears that we ourselves have caused. Marcel Proust

When I am not too sad to listen, music is my consolation. Marcel Proust

Our interests in life are so numerous that it’s not uncommon that in a single circumstance the foundations of a happiness yet to be realized be set alongside the exacerbation of a grief from which we’re suffering. Marcel Proust

To know something doesn’t always permit us to prevent it from happening, but at least with the things we know, and hold, if not in our hands, at least in our minds, where they remain at our disposal, we’re given the illusion of having a sort of power over them. Marcel Proust

In new surroundings where our sensations aren’t dulled by habit a pain is reinvigorated and sharpened. Marcel Proust

Sometimes in this life, under the stress of an exceptional emotion, people do say what they think. Marcel Proust

Happiness is beneficial for the body, but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind. Marcel Proust

Also, he had formed the habit of taking refuge in trivial thoughts, something which allowed him to ignore the more fundamental questions. Marcel Proust

We do not succeed in changing things according to our desire, but gradually our desire changes. Marcel Proust

Not wanting to think about it was to think about it still, to suffer still. Marcel Proust

Often it is just lack of imagination that keeps a man from suffering very much. Marcel Proust

Now are the woods all black, but still the sky is blue. Marcel Proust

We think and name in one world, we live and feel in another. Marcel Proust


Marcel Proust Quotes On Time And Memory

marcel proust quotes even though lives wander memories wisdom

Even though our lives wander, our memories remain in one place. Marcel Proust

The true paradises are the paradises that we have lost. Marcel Proust

It comes so soon, the moment when there is nothing left to wait for. Marcel Proust

The bonds between ourselves and another person exists only in our minds. Marcel Proust

If a little dreaming is dangerous, the cure for it is not to dream less but to dream more, to dream all the time. Marcel Proust

We are at times too ready to believe that the present is the only possible state of things. Marcel Proust

Man is the creature who cannot escape from himself, who knows other people only in himself. Marcel Proust

Time, which changes people, does not alter the image we have of them. Marcel Proust

There is no better way of forgetting something than by commemorating it. Marcel Proust

Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were. Marcel Proust

We are able to find everything in our memory, which is like a dispensary or chemical laboratory in which chance steers our hand sometimes to a soothing drug and sometimes to a dangerous poison. Marcel Proust

Memory nourishes the heart, and grief abates. Marcel Proust


We think we are finding out secrets of the world, but the only thing we are discovering is our own secrets. Marcel Proust

marcel proust

Marcel Proust Bio

  • Marcel Proust was born in France on July 10, 1871, and died on November 18, 1922.
  • He is best known for his monumental seven-part novel “In Search of Lost Time” (“À la recherche du temps perdu” or “Remembrance of Things Past”), published between 1913 and 1927.
  • “In Search of Lost Time” is considered one of the greatest achievements in modern literature and has had a profound influence on subsequent writers. Proust’s exploration of memory and subjective experience revolutionized the way novels were written.
  • Proust led a relatively isolated life, and his health was often fragile. He came from a wealthy family known for his social connections in Parisian high society.
  • Proust’s writing is characterized by its introspective style, exploring themes of memory, time, and the complexities of human relationships.

Which author drew inspiration from Marcel Proust’s work?

  • Gabriel García Márquez
  • David Foster Wallace
  • James Joyce
  • Italo Calvino
  • Virginia Woolf

Who influenced Marcel Proust’s writings?

Marcel Proust was influenced by giants like:

  • John Ruskin
  • Honoré de Balzac
  • Gustave Flaubert
  • Arthur Schopenhauer
  • Leo Tolstoy
  • Charles Baudelaire
  • Édouard Manet
  • Jules Renard

Key Takeaways from Proust’s writings

  • Become more self-aware. In his writings, Proust told us the importance of self-knowledge and self-understanding. So take the time each day to learn about yourself. Reflect on your relationships, your behaviors, your strengths, and your weaknesses. Journal for at least 5 minutes daily.
  • Become more present. Proust reminded us that the only real moment is the present. And that the past and the future are only illusions. How to apply this? Start meditating for at least 2 minutes daily.
  • Become a reader. Proust was an avid reader. That’s why his writings were rich, varied, and profound. How to apply this? Read for at least 10 pages daily. Read fiction and non-fiction. Read from different authors. Read biographies. Read about new topics. But more importantly, read about old topics like love, wisdom, philosophy, meaning, and simplicity.
  • Become more observant. Proust was a master at observing human relationships, jealousy, desires, emotions, etc. So acquiring a deeper understanding of people and society will help you gain wisdom and a better understanding of yourself too.
  • Become more adaptive. Proust often explored the concept of change in his writings. By recognizing the inevitability of change (externally and internally), you’ll become calmer and more serene in your life.

Further Readings

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Author Bio

maxime lagace

Maxime Lagacé started collecting quotes in 2004 after he lost his girlfriend in a car accident.

In search of meaning, he dived in the self-improvement world, psychology and trail running.

Books, blogs, quotes and nature became his guide.

He started journaling, reflecting, writing his thoughts, feelings and quotes.

His goal was to understand his pain, his depression, his fears, his lack of motivation and inspiration.

He finished his software engineering degree in 2007 at the École de Technologie Supérieure de Montréal.

A few years later, he started his first website to share his love of quotes.

Maxime is a father of two, husband, and INFJ.

Other notable interests of Maxime are health (mental and physical), meditation, bananas, SEO, human potential, and education.

You can find him on X, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube.

Last update

January 5, 2024

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