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Collected Maxims and Other Reflections

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  303 ratings  ·  23 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, Oxford World’s Classics, 354 pages
Published July 1st 2008 by Oxford University Press
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Riku Sayuj
Dec 17, 2013 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
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays, favourites
Great minds have the ability to say much in few words.

In short, the reader’s best policy is to start with the premiss that none of these maxims is directed specifically at him, and the he is the sole exception to them, even though they seem to be generally applicable. After that, I guarantee that he will be the first to subscribe to them, and that he will think them only too favourable to the human heart. That is what I have to say about the work in general.

I'm glad I re-read these
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
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Yet another great spirit who tells the Truth.

The other one is Balthasar Gracian and his The Pocket Oracle and Art of Prudence
Oct 21, 2015 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
Sep 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
This was an impulse buy based on my love for Oxford World's Classics paperbacks. I hadn't heard of the author before, but after a few quick peeks around the 'net, I found it interesting. I'm glad to have read the book and it's neat that it's a dual-language edition, with the original French on the left and a new English translation on the right. It lets me try to practice my French and also enjoy the translation process.

As for the work itself, there were several maxims I really liked. I list som
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is revelatory. The book is filled with maxims and prose that give the reader a clear-eyed understanding of personality traits and the behaviour of humans in general. Close to the beginning, the author says that knowledge in the book is a burden and can be lofty and uncomfortable for the reader to comprehend. Throughout reading the book I couldn't help but feel that parts were written specifically about me and for me, in a similar way to how horoscopes seem to always be about the reader ...more
Luis Cabrita
Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was an unespected little gem. Really interesting writter with a gift for the blatantly quotable turn of phrase. Well worth reading if you ever feel morose about not being able to be arround othee people during a lockdown. 5/5 (will re-read again).
Lone Wong
Nov 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourite, philosophy
Self-love is the love of oneself, and of all things for the sake of oneself.

This maxim can be able to interpret the central idea of the book and the notion of La Rochefoucauld's moral philosophy. This book is a work of cynicism, pessimism, skepticism as the editor claims it. We would always like to think that we are much wiser, intelligent, rational and most of all virtuous. This is an insidiously easy to read of work that La Rochefoucauld meticulous and acute analyses of human behavior that
Alex Zakharov
Aug 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Unlike Schopenhauer whose aphorisms are wide ranging and genuinely deep, La Rouchefoucauld’s output is more akin to Bach’s passacaglias – ceaseless variations on the same theme, though brilliantly done. Self-deception with respect to our virtues and vices, and delusions in regard to our abilities is where we are as humans. Innateness and fortune explain the lion’s share of variation in our affairs, but our self-love is misattributing outcomes to our own agency, virtue and skill.

Be forewarned, re
For the most part, I enjoyed La Rochefoucauld's Maxims, and this edition in particular. I liked seeing the French and the English side-by-side; it made the read much easier and quicker. In general, I thought the maxims were pithy and insightful. However, La Rochefoucauld was a little unkind to women.
Jun 04, 2014 marked it as to-read

Deceptively brief and 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. I’ll be going back to this again.
Apr 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you're under thirty and/or very rosy-eyed about life, this book could depress you. La Rochefoucauld pitilessly explores the human soul, and with a terse, simple language, holds up a mirror to our own selves, and the reflection is not flattering, believe me. A wonderfully humbling reading.
Dec 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There is so much relevance in this book to the times we live in, it's unbelievable. I can't restrain myself from thinking that more people should know about it, and that if it came out today it would be a bestseller. Enjoyed every second of it and collected many many words of wisdom.
David Wen
Jun 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
The maxims by itself are great. Insight into human behavior broken down into short sayings. The portions of the book which talks about other aspects of life and people are very dated and possibly fit for another era. I'd stick with the maxims and skip the other sections of the book.
Greg Linster
Jul 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Over the course of his life, La Rochefoucauld was not treated kindly by Fortuna. Accordingly, many of his maxims smack of cynicism, but I would argue that he's one of the best aphorists in history. He seems to have understood both the beautifulness and ugliness of human nature.
Yubal Masalker
Dec 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I read its Hebrew translation. Brilliant, Sharp, Clear and Honest remarks about the human nature.
Tahar Bba
Jun 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
I can't honestly say why this took me so long, but it definitely is not due to the books quality.

La Rochefoucauld's writings paint a vivid picture of 17th century France, especially his essay-like paragraphs in the later parts of this collection.
For me the parts focusing on French history, him being a contemporary of Dumas' Musketeers, made me engage even more towards the end.

I recommend for everyone enjoying precise and witty comments à la Wilde (for a more contemporary reference point) or int
Sebastian Tannæs
Apr 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that makes you wonder and reflect upon yourself. I didn`t find that a hard experience as it can sometimes be with so much cynicism, but i guess life before reading this had already shown me that quite a few things in this happen to be true. I will say though that i personally found Francois de la Rouchefoucauld`s views on romantic relationships to be quite interesting to read. He points out that it`s about our own vanity. Not really the individual we claim to love while i think he ...more
Bouchaib Chkaif
Nov 07, 2015 rated it liked it
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François VI, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, Prince de Marcillac (French: [fʁɑ̃swa d(ə) la ʁɔʃfuko]; 15 September 1613 – 17 March 1680) was a noted French author of maxims and memoirs. It is said that his world-view was clear-eyed and urbane, and that he neither condemned human conduct nor sentimentally celebrated it. Born in Paris on the Rue des Petits Champs, at a time when the royal court was vacillat ...more

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