Jack Mitchell

Reflections, or Moral Opinions & Maxims of the Duc de La Rochefoucauld

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This translation is my attempt to capture, for the English-speaking reader, the magic of reading La Rochefoucauld. First, in the translation, I tried for the balance and euphony of the original. Second, for the physical book itself, I imitated the page layout of the original 17th-century editions, with only a few Reflections per page (in both the French and the facing English), so as to aid the reader in taking them slowly, as cues for contemplation rather than as information to be processed. The result is, I hope, an opportunity for conversation with one of the most fascinating writers in European history.

Reflections, or Moral Opinions & Maxims is available from Amazon.

A Sample


It seems as though our actions have lucky or unlucky stars, to which they owe a large share of the praise and blame they receive.


Hardly anyone is clever enough to understand all the evil he does.


It's clever indeed to know how to hide one's cleverness.


The love of justice, in most men, is no more than the fear of suffering injustice.


We are easily consoled for our friends' disasters by the way these provide an opportunity to show them how much we care.


There are bad men who would be less dangerous if they had no goodness in them.


It is difficult to like people we don't respect; but it is no less difficult to like those whom we respect more than we respect ourselves.


With age we grow more foolish, and more wise.


Truth does not do as much good in the world as the pretence of truth does evil.


The pretence of simplicity is a delicate deception

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It's a kind of happiness to understand just how far unhappiness should go.


There are stupidities that catch on like contagious diseases.


It is not as dangerous to harm most men as it is to do them too much good.


Fortunate people hardly ever reform; they always think they are in the right when luck protects their bad conduct.


The good a man has done us prompts us to respect the evil he is doing to us.