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Reflections; or Sentences and Moral Maxims   By: (1613-1680)

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By Francois Duc De La Rochefoucauld, Prince de Marsillac

Translated from the Editions of 1678 and 1827 with introduction, notes, and some account of the author and his times.

By J. W. Willis Bund, M.A. LL.B and J. Hain Friswell

Simpson Low, Son, and Marston, 188, Fleet Street.


{TRANSCRIBERS NOTES: spelling variants are preserved (e.g. labour instead of labor, criticise instead of criticize, etc.); the translators' comments are in square brackets [...] as they are in the text; footnotes are indicated by and appear immediately following the passage containing the note (in the text they appear at the bottom of the page); and, finally, corrections and addenda are in curly brackets {...}.}


"As Rochefoucauld his maxims drew From Nature I believe them true. They argue no corrupted mind In him; the fault is in mankind." Swift.

"Les Maximes de la Rochefoucauld sont des proverbs des gens d'esprit." Montesquieu.

"Maxims are the condensed good sense of nations." Sir J. Mackintosh.

"Translators should not work alone; for good Et Propria Verba do not always occur to one mind." Luther's Table Talk, iii.


Preface (translator's) Introduction (translator's) Reflections and Moral Maxims First Supplement Second Supplement Third Supplement Reflections on Various Subjects Index


{Translators'} Some apology must be made for an attempt "to translate the untranslatable." Notwithstanding there are no less than eight English translations of La Rochefoucauld, hardly any are readable, none are free from faults, and all fail more or less to convey the author's meaning. Though so often translated, there is not a complete English edition of the Maxims and Reflections. All the translations are confined exclusively to the Maxims, none include the Reflections. This may be accounted for, from the fact that most of the translations are taken from the old editions of the Maxims, in which the Reflections do not appear. Until M. Suard devoted his attention to the text of Rochefoucauld, the various editions were but reprints of the preceding ones, without any regard to the alterations made by the author in the later editions published during his life time. So much was this the case, that Maxims which had been rejected by Rochefoucauld in his last edition, were still retained in the body of the work. To give but one example, the celebrated Maxim as to the misfortunes of our friends, was omitted in the last edition of the book, published in Rochefoucauld's life time, yet in every English edition this Maxim appears in the body of the work.

M. Aimé Martin in 1827 published an edition of the Maxims and Reflections which has ever since been the standard text of Rochefoucauld in France. The Maxims are printed from the edition of 1678, the last published during the author's life, and the last which received his corrections. To this edition were added two Supplements; the first containing the Maxims which had appeared in the editions of 1665, 1666, and 1675, and which were afterwards omitted; the second, some additional Maxims found among various of the author's manuscripts in the Royal Library at Paris. And a Series of Reflections which had been previously published in a work called "Receuil de pièces d'histoire et de littérature." Paris, 1731. They were first published with the Maxims in an edition by Gabriel Brotier.

In an edition of Rochefoucauld entitled "Reflexions, ou Sentences et Maximes Morales, augmentées de plus deux cent nouvelles Maximes et Maximes et Pensées diverses suivant les copies Imprimées à Paris, chez Claude Barbin, et Matre Cramoisy 1692," some fifty Maxims were added, ascribed by the editor to Rochefoucauld, and as his family allowed them to be published under his name, it seems probable they were genuine. These fifty form the third supplement to this book.

In all the French editions this book is spoken of as published in 1693... Continue reading book >>

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