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François de La Rochefoucauld (1613–1680)

Author of Maxims

95+ Works 1,752 Members 23 Reviews 10 Favorited

About the Author

Francois duc de La Rochefoucauld was born in Paris in 1613. Descended from a distinguished and titled Poitou family, he inherited the title of Duke when his father died in 1653. After serving in the army, where he participated in the battles of the Fronde, La Rochefoucauld took a prominent part in show more court life and politics during the reigns of the French kings Louis XIII and Louis XIV. In his memoirs, which were first published in 1662, he recounted his life as a young man in the army and the French court, from his numerous fights and amorous liaisons to his participation in an attempt to assassinate a Cardinal. In later years, strongly influenced by Jansenism, La Rochefoucauld began to think about the meaning of Christian life. He wrote his thoughts out in the form of maxims, a uniquely French form of epigrams. Brief, clever statements, usually with a moral focus, his maxims illustrate his perception of human behavior in often paradoxical and surprising ways. Because statements such as "Our virtues are most often vices disguised" or "We promise according to our hopes and perform according to our fears" are as relevant now as when they were written some 300 years ago, La Rochefoucauld's Maxims are still popular today. Francois duc de La Rochefoucauld died in 1680. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Fran%C3%A7ois_de_La_Rochefoucauld.jpg

Works by François de La Rochefoucauld

Maxims (1665) 1,150 copies
A Frenchman in England 1784 (1933) 16 copies
Maximes et Mémoires (1963) 12 copies
150 Maximen (1664) 5 copies
Máximas e reflexões (2007) 3 copies
Massime scelte 3 copies
Özdeyisler (2017) 2 copies
Máximas e Reflexões (1994) 2 copies
L'an mil (1997) 2 copies
Memorias 2 copies
Maximes 1 copy
Maximes 1 copy
Kruta Kniha Aforismu (1995) 1 copy
Moral maxims 1 copy
Guldkorn 1 copy
Spiegel des Herzens (2001) 1 copy
The maxims 1 copy
Memorias 1 copy
Itsekkyydestä (2022) 1 copy

Associated Works


Common Knowledge



A discussion of human conduct seen through the light of maxims or short reflections of the human experience. These can be bitter and pessimistic, yet thoughtful reading and regard for their deeper meaning yields benefits to the modern reader.
jwhenderson | 12 other reviews | Oct 13, 2022 |
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 que de conserver sa santé par un trop grand régime." Ahh, Diet, the sacred American program, is an illness.

The very first suppressed maxim, two pages long, applies well to the Trumpster: "Self-esteem is self-love. "Il rend les hommes idolâtres d'eux-mêmes et les rend tyrans des autres si la fortune leur en donne les moyens"(91). "It turns men into idolaters of themselves, and tyrants to others if they gain means to be." Nothing is so impetuous as the desires of self-love, "Rien n'est aussi impétueux que ses désirs."

Funerals: "Les pompe des enterrements regarde plus la vanité des vivants que l'honneur des morts."(96) The pomp of funerals issues more from the vanity of the living than from honoring the dead.
"On n'est jamais si malheureux qu'on croit, ni si heureux qu'on avait esperé."(93) You are never as unhappy as you think, nor as happy as you had hoped.


"Le monde récompense plus souvent les apparences de mérite que le mérite même."(p59)
US Election, 2016? The world recompenses the appearance of merit more than real merit.

"Tout le monde se plaint de sa mémoire, et personne ne se plaint de son jugement."(Max #89, p.53)
"Everyone complains of his memory; no-one of his judgement," I first heard from my Ph.D. director, Leonard Unger.

"L'accent du pays où l'on est né demeure dans l'esprit et dans le coeur, comme dans le langage," reminds me of the regional accents of England and Italy, but especially of my mid-western wife, from Minnesota, Kansas, and Wisconsin whose former accent betrayed her friendliness to arrogant New Englanders.

Textes Complimentaire.
"Portrait." LaR includes a self-portrait where he says he has too much chin, and that, though he "possesses his language rather well [!], his passions, especially anger, often intrude so that he doesn't express himself as well as he hoped." Cardinal de Retz, for his part, accuses LaR of "lack of penetration" perhaps because the writer avoids religion as a subject.

"De la Retrait," on Retirement. Why old people don't make friends, not finding many true friends, but also thinking those who have died were truer than any new ones: "Ils deviennent insensibles d'amitié, non seulement parce que qu'ils n'en ont peut-être jamais trouvé de véritable, mais parce qui'ils ont vu mourir un grand nombre de leur amis qui n'avaient pas encore eu le temps ni les occasions de manquer à l'amitié et ils se persuadent aisément qu'ils auraient été plus fidèles que ceux qui leur restent." (137)
… (more)
AlanWPowers | 2 other reviews | Apr 6, 2019 |
A pessimistic and cynical collection of maxims, mostly about human interactions. Like most collections of maxims, it is quick to read and – also like most collections of maxims – it can sometimes be repetitive or state the obvious. It is an enjoyable collection, but I did not think La Rochefoucauld went especially deep. His maxims were more often personal observations jerry-rigged into abstraction than any sort of rigorous philosophy.
MikeFutcher | 12 other reviews | Nov 6, 2018 |



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