Nicolas Chamfort? Emily Dickinson? Franz Liszt? Garrison Keillor? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: The dark side of celebrity is now widely recognized. Celebrity worship encourages self-absorption, arrogance, and callousness while celebrity hatred causes denouncements, calumnies, and physical endangerment. The following saying has been attributed to the eighteenth century French epigrammatist Nicolas Chamfort and the nineteenth century poet Emily Dickinson. Here are two versions:
(1) Celebrity is the chastisement of merit and the punishment of talent.
(2) Celebrity is the reproof of merit and the punishment of genius.
Would you please help me to determine the author and find a citation.
Quote Investigator: Nicolas Chamfort died in 1794. A collection of his writings appeared in 1796 under the title “Maximes, Pensées, Caractères et Anecdotes” (“Maxims, Thoughts, Characters and Anecdotes”). The adage appeared in a section titled “Pensées Morales” (“Moral Thoughts”). Boldface added to excerpts by QI:1796, Maximes, Pensées, Caractères et Anecdotes (Maxims, Thoughts, Characters and Anecdotes) by Nicolas Chamfort, Chapitre 5: Pensées Morales, Quote Page 88 and 89, Published in Paris and … Continue reading
La célébrité est le châtiment du mérite & la punition du talent. Le mien, quelqu’il soit, ne me paraît qu’un délateur, né pour troubler mon repos. J’éprouve, en le détruisant, la joie de triompher d’un ennemi. Le sentiment a triomphé chez moi de l’amour-propre même, & la vanité littéraire a péri dans la destruction de l’intérêt que je prenais aux hommes.
Here is one possible translation:
Celebrity is the chastisement of merit and the punishment of talent. Mine, whatever it is, seems to me only an informer, born to disturb my rest. I experience, in destroying it, the joy of triumphing over an enemy. My sensibility has triumphed over my self-love, and literary vanity has perished in the destruction of my preoccupation with men.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.