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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Extracts from Amiel’s Journal
French Self-Consciousness
By Henri Frédéric Amiel (1821–1881)
 
Translation of Mary Augusta Ward

JANUARY 22D, 1875.—The thirst for truth is not a French passion. In everything appearance is preferred to reality, the outside to the inside, the fashion to the material, that which shines to that which profits, opinion to conscience. That is to say, the Frenchman’s centre of gravity is always outside him,—he is always thinking of others, playing to the gallery. To him individuals are so many zeros: the unit which turns them into a number must be added from outside; it may be royalty, the writer of the day, the favorite newspaper, or any other temporary master of fashion.—All this is probably the result of an exaggerated sociability, which weakens the soul’s forces of resistance, destroys its capacity for investigation and personal conviction, and kills in it the worship of the ideal.  1
 
 
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