Collected Maxims and Other Reflections

Collected Maxims and Other Reflections

Book - 2007
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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 the Reflexions diverses (Miscellaneous Reflections). This edition includes an excellent introduction that surveys La Rochefoucauld's life, the genesis of his work, its form and content, and its influence, as well as comprehensive explanatory notes. A table of alternative maxim numbers and an extensive and invaluable index of topics help the reader to locate any maxim quickly and to appreciate the full range of La Rochefoucauld's thought on any of his favorite themes, such as self-love, vice and virtue, love and jealousy, friendship and self-interest, passion and pride.
Publisher: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2007
ISBN: 9780192806499
0192806491
9780199540006
0199540004
Characteristics: xliii, 354 p. ; 20 cm

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ColemanRidge Sep 21, 2011

The book is written in aphorisms, cool, dry, sharp comments on human behavior. These aphorisms are needles aimed at the thought-balloons of anyone pretending to live by reason. La Rochefoucauld's central theme is that amour-propre -- self love, love of one's own possessions, vanity -- underlies everything people do, including all their thinking. He points out how often philosophy and morality are rationalization after the fact of acts performed out of amour-propre. Even generous, kind people act out of amour-propre, he maintains, and each good thing they do makes their self-love swell larger. Nevertheless, La Rochfoucauld doesn't let one off of trying to be good. Instead, he warns that it is much harder than it seems, and requires continual quarrying out of hidden motives.

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