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Maxims

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  2,835 ratings  ·  187 reviews
The philosophy of La Rochefoucauld, which influenced French intellectuals as diverse as Voltaire and the Jansenists, is captured here in more than 600 penetrating and pithy aphorisms.
Paperback, 126 pages
Published June 25th 1981 by Penguin Classics (first published 1665)
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Average rating 4.05  · 
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Roy Lotz
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
We do not like to praise, and we never praise without a motive.

François Duc de La Rochefoucauld was something of a bungler in life. The scion of a great house, the beneficiary of a princely education, the young nobleman got himself mixed up in all sort of plots and intrigues, eventually getting himself locked in the Bastille and later banished to his estate. As a result of this rather undistinguished career in the world, he developed into a man-of-letters, achieving far more success on the p
...more
Alan
Jul 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Maximes Supprimeés (after the First Edition)
"La sobriété est l'amour de la santé, ou l'impuissance de manger beaucoup."(p95, Flammarion)
Moderation is either a love of health, or the inability to eat and drink any more.

"Comment prétendons-nous qu'un autre garder notre secret si nous ne pouvons le garder nous-memes?" (p99) Compare Ben Franklin's improvement:
"Three men can keep a secret, if two of them are dead."
(Poor Richard's Almanac, 70 years after Maxims, 1665.)

"C'est une ennuyeuse maladie q
...more
Rachelle
Sep 12, 2007 rated it really liked it
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.
David
Mar 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Mar 08, 2013 marked it as i-want-money
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."
Boniva
Apr 17, 2007 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, whi
...more
Trevor
Apr 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Tara deCamp
Apr 22, 2015 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?
Chuck LoPresti
Jun 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
*I've realized I'm writing myself notes more than reviews at times. I'm logging this stuff for my kids mostly who are 6 and 2 at the time of this writing, (Hello M. and O. If I'm dead now it doesn't mean I didn't just see what you did and you should feel horrible about your behavior the moment you are done washing your hands - now go watch 12 Chaplins and get a good night's sleep), I hope I can at least convey some central themes in the book at hand that will justify their presence on this site. ...more
Rick
Jul 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Aaron Dellutri
Mar 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Stevahkno  Fwaurmo
May 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Some are quite clever, some are quite obvious, some are quite insightful, most are worth reading.
Bogdan Liviu
Dec 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"There is only one kind of love, but there are a thousand imitations."
One of the fundamental books that humanity has produced.
Michelle Cano
Feb 19, 2017 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.”
Abeer Abdullah
Jun 04, 2015 rated it liked it
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
Justin
Apr 16, 2017 added it
Re-read. French courtier and spiritual precursor to -- among others -- the inverted moral perspectives and reversals worked through in Nietzsche, much of Freud and Bierce's Dictionary... Though this compact book is primarily comprised of aphorisms amenable to the Twitter format, my favorite entry is a bit lengthier:

630
"Of all human impulsions, the one we know least about is indolence. It is of them all the most vicious and intense, however unnoticed its intensity or concealed its ill effects. If
...more
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
Feliks
Jun 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Fantastically precise observations of human nature. But the end result is gloom and depression. If you read just a few pages of this work at one sitting; you will be okay. If you read 1/2 of it at one fell swoop, you will probably need prescription medication. Whatever you do, do not read the whole thing at once--you might never recover. This is grim, savage, biting stuff.
Doug
Feb 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
'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.
sologdin
Nov 28, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.)
Monique
Feb 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books I ever read.
Graychin (D. Dalrymple)
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
La Rochefoucauld writes in the Maxims that “age makes men both sillier and wiser.” He does not say that progress in one entails progress in the other but it would be convenient to believe so because, as my children will agree, I am sillier now than I used to be. I indulge in bad puns and gratuitous spoonerisms. I make, and enjoy making, “dad jokes.” In my middle age I find that most of the old vices and temptations loosen their grip (La Rochefoucauld: “When the vices give us up we flatter oursel ...more
Grand Logothete
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is essential reading for understanding humanity, our sick, anxious, vain, twisted, deceitful, malicious, jealous, vengeful, selfish and therefore hilariously poignant minds.

It dissects with concise precision the actions and interactions in the social sphere, dismounting their apparent good nature and intentions, by exposing the actual foundations that lie beneath the surface. With its acerbic, cynical wit, it makes a very solid case in ascertaining a large chunk of our behavior towards othe
...more
Ronald Koltnow
Jun 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Jordi Drenthen
Aug 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
"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
José Fonseca
May 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A book who exposes the hypocrisy of mankind in an unashamed way, and in a very very easy way to read. If you want to add 20 years of life experience to you current age, this is the book to read. It is, however, interesting how a book written almost 400 years ago can still summarize so well the behavior of mankind still today.
Benjamin
Apr 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
"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."
সৌরভ দাশ
May 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
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!!!
Awet Moges
Jan 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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.
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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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