28+ quotes from The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris by David McCullough

Quotes from The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris

David McCullough ·  558 pages

Rating: (15.9K votes)


“George P. A. Healy; "I knew no one in France, I was utterly ignorant of the language, I did not know what I should do when once there; but I was not yet one-and-twenty, and I had a great stock of courage, of inexperience—which is sometimes a great help—and a strong desire to be my very best.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris


“Vivez joyeux” was the old saying. “Live joyfully.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris


“One learned to take time to savor life, much as one took time to savor a good meal or glass of wine. The French called it “l’entente de la vie,” the harmony of life.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris


“The thought of going abroad makes my heart Leap," (Charles) Sumner wrote. "I feel, when I commune with myself about it, as when dwelling on the countenance and voice of a lovely girl. I am in love with Europa.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris


“It is in Paris that the beating of Europe’s heart is felt. Paris is the city of cities." - Victor Hugo”
― David McCullough, quote from The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris


“Charles Sumner; “A Smacking breeze has sprung up, and we shall part this company soon; and then for the Atlantic! Farewell then, my friends, my pursuits, my home, my country! Each bellying wave on its rough crest carries me away. The rocking vessel impedes my pen. And now, as my head begins slightly to reel, my imagination entertains the glorious prospects before me…”
― David McCullough, quote from The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris


“Just to be heading away from the sea, to be immersed in a beautiful landscape again, to hear the sound of crows, was such a welcome change, and all to be seen so very appealing, a land of peace and plenty, every field perfectly cultivated, hillsides bordering the river highlighted by white limestone cliffs, every village and distant château so indisputably ancient and picturesque.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris


“Those for whom things came easily usually made less of an effort, not more.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris


“A veteran artist counsels a less experienced one to start a painting using colors in the middle range so that the painter can move to more extreme colors as the work progresses.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris


“There was no opiate like a French pillow.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris


“Many of them were familiar from childhood with the fables of La Fontaine. Or they had read Voltaire or Racine or Molière in English translations. But that was about the sum of any familiarity they had with French literature. And none, of course, could have known in advance that the 1830s and ’40s in Paris were to mark the beginning of the great era of Victor Hugo, Balzac, George Sand, and Baudelaire, not to say anything of Delacroix in painting or Chopin and Liszt in music.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris


“Paris was a place where one wanted to walk, where to walk—flâner, as the French said—was practically a way of life. (“Ah! To wander over Paris!” wrote Honoré de Balzac. “What an adorable and delectable existence is that! Flânerie is a form of science, it is the gastronomy of the eye.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris


“The French dine to gratify, we to appease appetite,” observed John Sanderson. “We demolish dinner, they eat it.” The general misconception back home was that French food was highly seasoned, but not at all, wrote James Fenimore Cooper. The genius in French cookery was “in blending flavors and in arranging compounds in such a manner as to produce … the lightest and most agreeable food.” The charm of a French dinner, like so much in French life, was the “effect.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris


“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”—“The more things change, the more they remain the same”—was the oft-quoted observation of a French writer, Alphonse Karr.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris


“Elizabeth Blackwell, “with a very slender purse and few introductions of any value,” found herself in the “unknown world” of Paris. What made her situation different from that of other American visitors was her profession. She was a doctor—the first American woman to have become a doctor.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris


“On a medical school professor noted for slowly, carefully interviewing the patient: "He taught the love of truth.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris


“To be unable to read was the ultimate measure of wretchedness.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris


“In America, applause is won only by physical exertion.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris


“Steamboats by this time were becoming a familiar presence on the rivers and coastal waters of America, but not until 1838 did steam-powered ships cross the Atlantic.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris


“Best of all, Galignani’s, the English bookstore and reading room, a favorite gathering place, stood across the street from the hotel. There one could pass long, comfortable hours with a great array of English and even American newspapers. Parisians were as avid readers of newspapers as any people on earth. Some thirty-four daily papers were published in Paris, and many of these, too, were to be found spread across several large tables. The favorite English-language paper was Galignani’s own Messenger, with morning and evening editions Monday through Friday. For the newly arrived Americans, after more than a month with no news of any kind, these and the American papers were pure gold. Of the several circulating libraries in Paris, only Galignani’s carried books in English, and indispensable was Galignani’s New Paris Guide in English. Few Americans went without this thick little leather-bound volume, fully 839 pages of invaluable insights and information, plus maps.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris


“Who would live in this rank old Paris if it was not for its gardens?" - John Sanderson”
― David McCullough, quote from The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris


“Let us have gardens, then, and other public places where we may see our friends, and parade our vanities, if you will, before the eyes of the world. Did you ever know anyone who was not delighted with a garden?" - John Sanderson”
― David McCullough, quote from The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris


“Nathaniel Willis, having spent his first week walking the city in drizzling rain, said that when the sun burst forth at last it so changed all his previous impressions that he had to set off and see it all a second time. “And it seemed to me another city,” he wrote. “I never realized so forcibly the beauty of sunshine. Architecture, particularly, is nothing without it.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris


“On prend l’essence de la vie dans la ville.” “One captures the essence of life in the city,” the French said. To be in Paris was to have the world at one’s feet—“le monde à ses pieds.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris


“If Preston Brooks with his attack had brought him near death, was it not his old friend Appleton who had observed, “When good Americans die they go to Paris”?”
― David McCullough, quote from The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris


“Hardly a soul spoke a word of English. All this they had been forewarned about, but the difference between what one had been told and what one came to understand firsthand was enormous.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris


“We who are residing in a foreign country, away from the immediate scene of action, perhaps can feel more deeply than those at home the evil effects of the present distracted condition of our country.”
― David McCullough, quote from The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris


“group of aspiring young Mormon painters who called themselves “art missionaries” arrived from Utah, many to enroll at the Académie Julian. Their expenses were being provided by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in return for work they would later contribute, painting murals in the Temple at Salt Lake City. As one of their leaders, an especially gifted painter named John Hafen, said, their motivation was the belief that “the highest possible development of talent is the duty we owe to our Creator.” Though no exact count was made of the American art students in Paris at the time, they undoubtedly numbered more than a thousand. And”
― David McCullough, quote from The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris


About the author

David McCullough
Born place: in Pittsburgh, The United States
Born date July 7, 1933
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