Recollections Of My Youth (1883)
Book format: An electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose.
Publisher: Date:2/21/2008 - Kessinger Publishing, LLC
By: Ernest Renan
Excerpt from book: ST. RENAN. WHEN I come to look at things very closely, I see that I have changed very little: my destiny had practically welded me, from my earliest youth, to the place which I was to hold in the world. My vocation was thoroughly matured when I came to Paris: before leaving Brittany my life had been mapped out. By the mere force of things, and despite my conscientious efforts to the contrary, I was predestined to become what I am, a member of the romantic school, protesting against romanticism, a Utopian inculcating the doctrine of half-measures, an idealist unsuccessfully attempting to pass muster for a Philistine, a tissue of contradictions, resembling the double-natured hircocerf of scholasticism. One of my two halves must have been busy demolishing the other half, like the fabled beast of Ctesias which unwittingly devoured its own paws. As was well said by that keen observer, Challemel-Lacour : " He thinks like a man, feels like a woman, and acts like a child." I have no reason to complain of such being the case, as this moral constitution has procured for me the keenest intellectual joys which man can taste. My race, my family, my native place, and the peculiar circle in which I was brought up, by diverting me from all material pursuits, and by rendering me unfit for anything except the treatment of things of the mind, had made of me an idealist, shut out from everything else. The application of my intellect might have been a different one, but the principle would have remained the same. The true sign of a vocation is the impossibility of getting away from it: that is to say, of succeeding in anything except that for which one was created. The man who has a vocation mechanically sacrifices everything to his dominant task. External circumstances might, as so often hap...