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The Maxims of La Rochefoucauld

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  1,461 ratings  ·  80 reviews
From back cover:

The Maxims of La Rochefoucauld

Greatest of the maxim writers of France, in an age whose worldly wisdom habitually found its way into essential aphorisms and general maxims of conduct, Francois de la Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) concentrated the results of observations and insights of a life deeply engaged in the great events of his time in his class Maxims, fir
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Paperback, 158 pages
Published 1959 by Vintage Books (first published 1665)
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Riku Sayuj

‘Neither the sun nor death can be looked at steadily,’ declares La Rochefoucauld.

The editors assure us:

the same may be said of his Maxims. Few books as widely read have provoked as much resistance. Most of us can no more look at it without wavering than we could the sun. We cannot bear the thought that it might be true; the consequences would be too painful. So, to shut our eyes to it, to avoid facing it, we rely on every psychological defence we can muster. The book is a work of cynicism, pes
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Mohammad Ali

لاروشفوکو در این کتاب بر چند مطلب اصرار دارد: 1) فضایل ادعایی بشر اغلب چیزی جز نمودهای متنوع منیت او نیستند و فروتنی ها و اذعان به اشتباهات و ... صرفا رندی های حب ذات برای ارضاء بیشترند؛ 2) آدمی با زیرکی توانسته تنبلی را که بدترین رذایل است در میان فضایل جا دهد؛ 3) فضائل و رذائل خود را نباید چیزی جدای از فراز و فرود حرارت های مزاجمان بدانیم؛ [ 4) اما آدمی اراده ای دارد که قادر است او را از این وضع طبیعی رهایی بخشد و حقیقت و زیبایی و کمال را برایش به ارمغان آورد ]. این آخری را در براکت نوشتم چون
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Boniva
Apr 17, 2007 Boniva rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone!
Wow. This is seeing the glass all the way empty (& maybe smashed).

Lilian Tomlin said something like, no matter how cynical you get, it's never enough to keep up. If this jives with your view of humanity, read Rochefoucauld.

The maxims are short and pithy and misanthropic:

Self-love is subtler than the subtlest man of the world.

The moderation of happy people comes from the tranquility that good fortune gives to their disposition.

What is called generosity is most often just the vanity of giving,
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David
The full title of the text is Reflections or Aphorisms and Moral Maxims; and in centered text below the title are the words "Our virtues are usually only vices in disguise." The subtitle says as much as the title. These aphorisms are bitter as they are pithy. Perhaps not bitter -- say, rather, that La Rochefoucauld was not optimistic about human nature. Very few of these aphorisms speak of love, friendship, virtue, or humility with anything but skepticism.

Given how nearly sublimely pessimistic L
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Abbyjay
La Rochefoucald is a very interesting person who has lead a very interesting life, in addition to his being clearly very intelligent. Such factors naturally lead to wise, if not at least fascinating writings. I at first heard about him and his short book of maxims and thought it would be a light summer read but it took me 3 times as much effort as I thought it would to read these 500 one sentence maxims, they weren't very complex and so I wondered why it was so hard for me to do so and I came to ...more
Trevor
Some of the maxims that caught my eye:

"Philosophy triumphs easily over past evils and future evils; but present evils triumph over it."
Maxim 22

"We have more strength than will; and it is often merely for an excuse we say things are impossible." Maxim 30

"Those who apply themselves too closely to little things often become incapable of great things."
Maxim 41

"We have not enough strength to follow all our reason." Maxim 42

"Happiness is in the taste, and not in the things themselves; we are happy fro
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Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Mar 08, 2013 Nathan "N.R." Gaddis marked it as i-want-money  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nathan "N.R." by: Moira Russell
Shelves: pretty-old-stuff
Vanity causes me to pursue an accounting of the following exchange:

"Nathan "N.R." wrote: "There is nothing worse in the world than someone who has fallen in love."

[Moira]: Nathan, you get the La Rochefoucauld (sp) award for the day."
Rachelle
Depressing, bitter, single-sentence maxims that opened my naive eyes and made me want to choose to be a better person than most. La Rouchefoucauld published these first in 1665 (France), but at least 80 percent are still applicable today. Fascinating observations.
Garth
Our virtues are most frequently but vices in disguise.- Francois de La Rochefoucauld In the early 17th century, a French writer earned great acclaim for publishing a book of maxims that influenced French society centuries after he wrote. Important thinkers like Friedrich Nietzsche admired him, and literary critics bandied his name about in comparison and contrast to their own contemporaries. Around the same time Blaise Pascal was writing what he intended to be a defense of the Christian faith, t ...more
Rick
La Rochefoucauld’s maxims are all things that good maxims should be: pithy, shrewd, redolent of experience, and memorable. A sampling: “Few things are impossible in themselves, it is not so much the means we lack as perseverance to make them succeed.” “We are far indeed from knowing all we want.” “It is easier to stifle a first desire than to satisfy all the ensuing ones.” “We are so used to disguising ourselves from others that we end up disguising ourselves from ourselves.” “Nature provides th ...more
Tara deCamp
My French literature textbook included ten of these maxims, and I was intrigued to see more of these timeless tidbits. Most people in my class thought Rochefoucauld displayed a very pessimistic viewpoint on life here, but I thought it was fair and neutral. Maybe I'm just super pessimistic too and didn't realize it?
Doug
'Amazing' is a bit of enthusiasm that doesn't really fit with La Rochefoucauld's pithy sentences. I'll settle for diamond-like or 'adamantine' instead. Even not in the wake of a bad relationship, these summations of human conduct, folly, and motivation are as true as philosophy could pose.
Monique
This is one of the best books I ever read.
Chris Watson
1: "What we take for virtues are often merely a collection of different acts and personal interests pieced together by chance or our own ingenuity and it is not always because of valour or chastity that men are valiant or women chaste."

2: "Self love is the greatest flatterer of all."

etc...

Some take this book as cycnical, and read with a modern sensibility it could be seen that way. But really, it's a thesis on certain aspects of Christian thought: know thyself; all are sinners; to sin in the min
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David
This work is a collection of maxims likely intended to guide moral conduct. However, Maxims does little more than get the reader acquainted with La Rochefoucauld's cynicism. Behind every good word or act there lies a selfish motive and an eye constantly out for one's own gain. It is hard to believe that every moral act indiscriminately is nothing but a veil over the machinations of pitch black souls, but maybe La Rochefoucauld did live in such a social environment. If it does nothing else, Maxim ...more
Aaron Dellutri
Apr 03, 2008 Aaron Dellutri rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People curious about human motivation.
"Our virtues are usually only vices in disguise."

So begins this collection of hundreds of short aphorisms about human nature, most of them 3 sentences or less, which touch on love, war, business, courage, money, death, perception, politics, freindship, vanity, morality, laziness, and hypocrisy. The writer, the Duc De La Rochefoucauld, had a philosophy which linked all human action to people's "self-love".

Cynical, but not in a mean way. La Rochefoucauld was very good at seeing the hidden selfish
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Sourav Das
This book will help you to see the other side of human qualities,and bring out the dark aspirations of our mind.
Definitely that will help you,because virtue is much appreciated when it resides within us even after the invasion of all those vices.Happy reading!!!
Lyna Galliara
I don't usually write reviews because I am rubbish at writing them and find that there's always somebody else who has already written a review that expresses how I feel about a book and has done so far more eloquently than I could ever hope to.

I think one of the reasons I have not started writing reviews since joining GoodReads recently is that I feel under qualified to do so. I don't feel like I have any useful new thoughts on books as I have never been much of a reader, I have read very few bo
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Alex Lee
Rochefoucauld is an interesting guy. He provides some interesting meditations on the inconsistency of human behavior, asking that we consider in the formation of knowledge, not only what is presented to us, but what remains bracketed. What I mean is that inherent in Rochefoucauld is a dichotomy, in that if one presents one side to us, asking that we consider them in a given way, we can only really understand the fullness (in a Newtonian sense) by asking where did the opposing reaction for this p ...more
Reginacm
Men not only forget benefits and injuries; they hate those toward whom they are under an obligation and cringe to those who have insulted them. Gratitude and revenge, as duties, are yokes that gall.

Clemency, usually counted a virtue, is occasionally the outcome of vanity, sometimes of laziness, often of fear, and usually of all three.

Our Acts are like rhymes; we adopt whatever sequence we please.

Envy always outlives the happiness we envy.
sologdin
have decided that the gnomic is my least favorite genre. perhaps there is something valuable here, but am finding it trite in its presentation and unsustained in its intellectual rigor. (am not a fan of nietzsche's contributions to the genre, either.)
Ronald Koltnow
Francois, Duke de Le Rouchefoucauld, was considered everything the learned French nobleman of the 17th Century should be. A man of the court, a favorite at the salons, he was a gentleman of note. His MAXIMS are a series of aphorisms, and most of them are brilliant (Hypocrisy is a tribute vice pays to virtue). Many of the aphorism deal with flirtation and coquetry, and they are dated. Most though deal with human nature and are as true today as in 1650. The aphorism is the highest form of literatu ...more
Benjamin
"Those who most obstinately oppose the most widely-held opinions more often do so because of pride than lack of intelligence. They find the best places in the right set already taken, and they do not want back seats."
Rosa Ramôa
François de La Rochefoucauld * França * 1613 / 1680
Escritor...Moralista...

"O verdadeiro amor é como a aparição dos espíritos: toda a gente fala dele, mas poucos o viram".

"Há falsidades disfarçadas que simulam tão bem a verdade, que seria um erro pensar que nunca seremos enganados por elas".

"Não devemos julgar os méritos de um homem pelas suas boas qualidades, e sim pelo uso que delas faz".

"A virtude não iria tão longe se a vaidade lhe não fizesse companhia".

"Um verdadeiro amigo é o maior de to
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Scott Kleinpeter
I feel while I read these as if La Rochefoucauld is a friend of mine who is older, wiser, and in a subtle, half-conscious way, convincing me of the follies of cynicism.
Javier
Infallible and incisive maxims on human idiocy, hypocrisy and all other identifiable emotions.

A must for Nietzsche readers.
Stevahkno  Fwaurmo
Some are quite clever, some are quite obvious, some are quite insightful, most are worth reading.
Jeffrey
Superb. Another book everyone should read before death whisks them away.
Jack
Heavenly, even if you aren't hopelessly cynical.
Bradley
Cynicism as an art.
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  • The Waste Books
  • Models of My Life
  • Philosophical Dictionary
  • The Trouble With Being Born
  • The Education of Cyrus
  • Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son
  • The Essential Epicurus
  • The Essays
  • Maxims and Reflections
  • The Art of Worldly Wisdom
  • Essays and Aphorisms
  • Horace
  • Philosophy As a Way of Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault
  • The Complete Essays
  • The Moral Sayings of Publius Syrus: A Roman Slave
  • The Anatomy of Melancholy
  • Pensées
  • The Poems of François Villon
Reflexions Ou Sentences Et Maximes Morales de Monsieur de La Rochefoucault: Maximes de Madame La Marquise de Sable (1712) Memoires precedes de l'Apologie de M. le prince de Marcillac Massime scelte La Rochefoucauld : Les Moralistes -- Maximes (La Rochefoucauld); Caractères (La Bruyère) Oeuvres Morales de Francois de La Rochefoucault (1798)

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