A Bottle of Wine Contains More Philosophy Than All the Books in the World

Louis Pasteur? René Vallery-Radot? Jacques Orhon? Malcolm Kushner? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The famous French scientist Louis Pasteur has received credit for the following remark:

A bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world.

I have been unable to find a good citation. Would you please help?

Quote Investigator: Louis Pasteur lived between 1822 and 1895. QI conjectures that the statement above evolved from a passage in a letter written by Pasteur in 1843.

René Vallery-Radot was Pasteur’s son-in-law, supporter, companion, and biographer. In November 1900 Vallery-Radot published an article in “Revue Politique et Littéraire: Revue Bleue” (“Political and Literary Review: Blue Review”) titled “La Vie de Pasteur” (“The Life of Pasteur”) which included the following. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Nouvelle lettre au mois de décembre 1843, recommandation directe à son fils.

Dis à Chappuis que j’ai mis en bouteilles du 1834 acheté tout exprès pour boire à l’honneur de l’École normale, et cela pour les premières vacances. Il y a de l’esprit au fond de ces cent litres plus que dans tous les livres de philosophie du monde. Mais pour des formules de mathématiques, ajoutait-il, je crois qu’il n’y en a pas. Dis-lui bien que nous boirons la première bouteille avec lui. Soyez toujours de bons amis.

In 1900 Vallery-Radot published a biography of Pasteur which was translated from French to English in 1902 by Mrs. R. L. Devonshire. The following passage corresponded to the text above: 2

Another letter, December, 1843, to his son this time: “Tell Chappuis that I have bottled some 1834 bought on purpose to drink the health of the Ecole Normale during the next holidays. There is more wit in those 100 litres than in all the books on philosophy in the world; but, as to mathematical formulæ, there are none, I believe. Mind you tell him that we shall drink the first bottle with him. Remain two good friends.”

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading A Bottle of Wine Contains More Philosophy Than All the Books in the World


  1. Date: 10 Novembre 1900 (November 10, 1900), Journal: Revue Politique et Littéraire: Revue Bleue, Article: La Vie de Pasteur, Author: R. Vallery-Radot, Start Page 580, Quote Page 587 and 588, Publisher: Bureau des Revues, Paris. (Google Books Full View) link
  2. 1902, The Life of Pasteur by René Vallery-Radot, Translated from the French by Mrs. R. L. Devonshire, Volume 1, Chapter 1: 1822-1843, Quote Page 31, Archibald Constable & Company, Westminster. (Google Books Full View) link

Let Me Tell You the Secret That Led Me To My Goal. My Sole Strength Is in My Tenacity

Louis Pasteur? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Achieving your most vital objectives in life can be quite difficult. Reportedly, the famous French scientist Louis Pasteur once highlighted the personality trait that enabled his enormous success:

Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity.

Is this quotation genuine? Would you please help me to find a citation for the original French version of this statement?

Quote Investigator: In 1885 Louis Pasteur attended a banquet of veterinary surgeons who praised his remarkable accomplishments. During his speech Pasteur pointed to the attribute that facilitated his scientific breakthroughs. The following passage in French is from the seventh volume of “Œuvres de Pasteur”. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Dans la vie, il faut consacrer tous ses efforts à faire le mieux possible ce à quoi on est apte. Et puisqu’on a tout à l’heure beaucoup parlé de mes études, laissez-moi vous dire le secret qui m’a mené au but. Ma seule force est dans ma ténacité.

Here is one possible rendering into English:

In life, you have to devote all your efforts to do the best you can. And since we talked a lot about my studies earlier, let me tell you the secret that led me to my goal. My sole strength is in my tenacity.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Let Me Tell You the Secret That Led Me To My Goal. My Sole Strength Is in My Tenacity


  1. 1939, Title: Œuvres de Pasteur réunies par Pasteur Vallery-Radot, (Works of Pasteur brought together by Louis Pasteur Vallery-Radot), Tome VII: Mélanges Scientifiques et Littéraires (Volume 7: Scientific and Literary Mixture), Section: Discours Prononce au Banquet du Congrès National des Vétérinaires Sanitaires (Speech Delivered at the Banquet of the National Congress of Veterinary Surgeons), Acknowledgement: (Journal de l’agriculture, Novembre 7, 1885, II, pp. 723-724), Start Page 389, Quote Page 390, Publisher: Libraires de L’Académie de Médecine, Masson et Cie, Éditeurs, Paris. (BnF Gallica, Internet Archive) link