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Collected Maxims and Other Reflections

4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  2,121 Ratings  ·  113 Reviews
Deceptively brief and insidiously easy to read, La Rochefoucauld's shrewd, unflattering analyses of human behavior have influenced writers, thinkers, and public figures as various as Voltaire, Proust, de Gaulle, Nietzsche, and Conan Doyle. This is the fullest collection of La Rochefoucauld's writings ever published in English, and includes the first complete translation of ...more
Paperback, 354 pages
Published July 1st 2008 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1665)
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Riku Sayuj
Dec 17, 2013 Riku Sayuj rated it really liked it

‘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
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
Sep 12, 2007 Rachelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 18, 2008 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Apr 17, 2007 Boniva rated it it was amazing  ·  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,
Apr 21, 2010 Trevor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Bogdan Liviu
Dec 30, 2016 Bogdan Liviu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"There is only one kind of love, but there are a thousand imitations."
One of the fundamental books that humanity has produced.
Tara deCamp
Apr 22, 2015 Tara deCamp rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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?
Oct 21, 2015 J.D. rated it it was amazing
It's difficult to narrow down my thoughts on this book to a review that is not verbose. I want to say to begin with that reading "Portrait de M. R. D. fait par lui-même" (Portrait of Monsieur R----d, by Himself) was delightful. I know I was smiling the whole time whenever I was reading it. To me, that last part was less autobiographical and more personal. I think it is absolutely wonderful that they included that at the end of the book. (That is, aside from the Maxims of Doubtful Authenticity.) ...more
Michelle Cano
Feb 19, 2017 Michelle Cano rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cada frase del libro es oro.

“We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others, that in the end, we become disguised to ourselves.”
Jun 04, 2015 Abeer rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france
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
Jul 15, 2012 Rick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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."
Feb 04, 2008 Doug rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'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.
Feb 18, 2009 Monique rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best books I ever read.
Stevahkno  Fwaurmo
Some are quite clever, some are quite obvious, some are quite insightful, most are worth reading.
Ronald Koltnow
Jun 25, 2015 Ronald Koltnow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aaron Dellutri
Mar 27, 2008 Aaron Dellutri rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Jordi Drenthen
Aug 26, 2015 Jordi Drenthen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Of all our failings laziness is the least known to us. None is more powerful or more malignant, although its ravages are hidden. If we examine carefully into its influence we shall find that it is invariably mistress of our sentiments, interests and pleasures. It is an octopus which holds up the greatest ships; it is a flat calm more dangerous to important ventures than reefs or hurricanes. The indolence of sloth has a subtle and hidden charm for our souls which suspends our most ardent efforts ...more
Awet Moges
Jan 11, 2016 Awet Moges rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the very few books that deserve to be reread many times; at least once during your teens, a few more times during your idealistic phase in college, constantly throughout your adulthood, and only on occasion during your golden years.
Apr 05, 2008 Benjamin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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."
Superb. Another book everyone should read before death whisks them away.
Nov 09, 2008 Javier rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Infallible and incisive maxims on human idiocy, hypocrisy and all other identifiable emotions.

A must for Nietzsche readers.
Mar 24, 2011 Σς rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
A mixed bag. There's a lot of unbelievable observation/insight in here (and apparently people sucked back then, too) but it also gets a little tedious to be told over and over that people don't know their real motives, and that all is a mask for self-love. Nietzsche would later steal not only the aphoristic style (which goes back to the pre-Socratics) of philosophy but also (1) that the brain is slave to the stomach (the intellect to the will), and (2) that all (good, evil, virtue, vice, love, h ...more
We are more able than willing; often we imagine that things are impossible because we want to excuse ourselves in our own eyes.

There is more pride than kindness* in our reprimands to people who are at fault; and we reprove them not so much to correct them as to convince them that we ourselves are free from such wrongdoing.

What men have called friendship is merely social contact, consider ation for one another’s interests, and exchange of favours; in fact, it is simply a transaction in w
Chris Watson
Sep 10, 2009 Chris Watson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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."


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
Mar 10, 2013 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Nov 28, 2014 sologdin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
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.)
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  • The Waste Books
  • Philosophical Dictionary
  • Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son
  • Models of My Life
  • The Essential Epicurus
  • The Art of Worldly Wisdom
  • Horace
  • The Education of Cyrus
  • Maxims and Reflections
  • The Trouble with Being Born
  • Le Chef-D'Œuvre Inconnu Et Autres Nouvelles
  • Essays and Aphorisms
  • The Poems of François Villon
  • Pensées
  • The Anatomy of Melancholy
  • Andromaque
  • Aforismi
  • Selected Letters

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