La Rochefoucauld Maxims (Classics)

ISBN 13: 9780140440959

Maxims (Classics)

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9780140440959: Maxims (Classics)

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.

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From the Back Cover:

"Stuart D. Warner and Stéphane Douard's handsome new edition of the 'Maximes' admirably succeeds in it two high purposes: it is a book beautifully organizesd for the maximum convenience of its readers that provides a translation - chaste, literal, and elegant - absolutely faithful tot he meaning of the great La Rochefoucauld. A spendid achievement in every way."

-Joseph Epstein
"A thorough edition and a superb translation of the most acute work in the French classical moralistic wisdom. The Introduction is brilliant. What La Rochefoucald denounced as the appetites of human pride is not so different indeed from what nowadays is called narcissism. His book expressed disillusion wih aristocratic individualistic values. But his resemblance with the 'demystifiers' of our times makes his 'Maximes' essential reading. A very remarkable book."

-Jean Starobinski
"La Rochefoucauld's sententious reflections on life, death and much of what passes in their compass are given shape in a masterly introduction that locates their author his relation to his moral and spiritual heritage and to a future that has become our modern environment. The thoughtful translation adds much to the merit of this valuable work."

-Joseph Cropsey

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Moral Reflections

Nos vertus ne sont, le plus souvent, que des vices déguisés.
Our virtues are, most often, only vices disguised.

1 Ce que nous prenons pour des vertus n’est souvent qu’un assemblage de diverses actions et de divers intérêts, que la fortune ou notre industrie savent arranger; et ce n’est pas toujours par valeur et par chasteté que les hommes sont vaillants, et que les femmes sont chastes.
What we take for virtues are often only a collection of various actions and interests which fortune or our own industry knows how to arrange; and it is not always through valor and chastity that men are valiant and that women are chaste.

2 L’amour-propre est le plus grand de tous les flatteurs.
Self-love is the greatest of all flatterers.

3 Quelque découverte que 1'on ait faite dans le pays 1'amour-propre, il y reste encore bien des terres inconnues.
Whatever discovery was made in the country of self-love, many unknown lands remain there still.

4 L’amour-propre est plus habile que le plus habile homme du monde.
Self-love is more clever than the most clever man in the world.

5 La durée de nos passions ne dépend pas plus de nous que la durée de notre vie.
The duration of our passions depends on us no more than the duration of our lives.

6 La passion fait souvent un fou du plus habile homme, et rend souvent les plus sots habiles.
Passion often makes a madman out of the most clever man, and often renders the most foolish clever.

7 Ces grandes et éclatantes actions qui éblouissent les yeux sont représentées par les politiques comme les effets des grands desseins, au lieu que ce sont d'ordinaire les effets de 1'humeur et des passions. Ainsi la guerre d'Auguste et d’Antoine, qu'on rapporte à 1'ambition qu’ils avaient de se rendre maîtres du monde, n’était peut-être qu’un effet de_jalousie.
These great and brilliant actions which dazzle the eyes are represented by statesmen as the effects of great designs, whereas they are ordinarily the effects of the humors and of the passions. Thus, the war of Augustus and Anthony, which is ascribed to the ambition they had to become masters of the world, was perhaps only an effect of jealousy.

8 Les passions sont les seuls orateurs qui persuadent toujours. Elles sont comme un art de la nature dont les règles sont infaillibles; et 1'homme le plus simple qui a de la passion persuade mieux que le plus éloquent qui n'en a point.
Passions are the only orators which always persuade. They are like an art of nature, the rules of which are infallible. and the simplest man who has some passion persuades better than the most eloquent who has none.

9 Les passions ont une injustice et un propre intérêt qui fait qu'il est dangereux de les suivre, et quon sen doit déffier lors même qu'elles paraissent les plus raisonnables.
Passions have an injustice and a self-interest of their own which makes following them dangerous, and one should distrust them, even when they appear most reasonable.

10 II y a dans le cœur humain une géneration perpétuelle de passions, en sorts que la ruine de 1'une est presque toujours 1'établissement d'une autre.
There is in the human heart a perpetual generation of passions, such that the downfall of one is almost always the establishment of another.

11 Les passions en engendrent souvent qui leur sont contraires. L’avarice produit quelquefois la prodigalité; et la prodigalité 1'avarice; on est souvent ferme par faiblesse, et audacieux par timidité.
Passions often engender passions which are contrary to them. Avarice sometimes begets prodigality, and prodigality avarice; one is often resolute through weakness, and bold through timidity.

12 Quelque soin que 1'on prenne de couvrir ses passions par des apparences de piété et d’honneur, elles paraissent toujours au travers de ces voiles.
Whatever care one takes to cover one's passions with appearances of piety and honor, they always appear through these veils.

13 Notre amour-propre souffre plus impatiemment la condemnation de nos goûts que de nos opinions.
Our self-love suffers more impatiently the condemnation of our tastes than our opinions.

14 Les hommes ne sont pas seulement sujets à perdre le souvenir des bien faits et des injures; its haïssent même ceux qui les ont obligés, et cessent de haïr. ceux qui leur ont fait des outrages. L’application à récompenser le bien, et a se venger du mal, leur paraît une servitude à laquelle ils ont peine de se soumettre.
Men are not only subject to losing the memory of benefits and injuries, they even hate those who benefited them, and cease to hate those who have committed outrages against them. The diligence of rewarding the good and taking revenge on the bad appears to them as a servitude into which they have difficulty delivering themselves.

15 La clémence des princes n’est souvent qu'une politique pour gagner 1'affection des peuples.
The leniency of princes is often only a policy for winning the affection of the people.

16 Cette clémence dont on fait une vertu se pratique tantôt par vanité, quelque fois par paresse, souvent par crainte, et presque toujours par tous les trois ensemble.
This leniency of which a virtue is made is sometimes practiced out of vanity, now and then out of laziness, often out of fear, and almost always out of all three together.

17 La moderation des personnes heureuses vient du calme que la bonne fortune donne à leur humeur
The moderation of happy people comes from the calm that good fortune gives to their humors.

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