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La Rochefoucauld: A Taste of 17th Century French Red Pill
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Chevalier De Seingalt Offline
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La Rochefoucauld: A Taste of 17th Century French Red Pill
"Red pill" might be a bit limiting and not do full justice to the complexity of his thinking. But La Rochefoucauld (1630-1680) was a master of taking an unsentimental, clear-eyed view of the world and the people in it, and forum readers will recognize in his viewpoints many similar ideas that we have taken to calling "red pill".


Who was he? Born into a wealthy and noble French family, he joined the army at age 16; fought in many battles throughout his adult life; and was involved in the tumultuous power plays and political intrigue between different factions of the aristocracy and monarchy in the mid-1600's (which preceded and led to the absolute monarchy of King Louis XIV). When he was roughly 40 he was shot in the head in battle; his recovery took a full year and then he retired to his country estates. Later he moved back to Paris life and wrote his Maxims which were discussed as a sort of conversational game in the high-class salons. He is considered a giant in French literature and thought.

What are they? About 500 mostly very brief but also psychologically penetrating 1-2 sentence observations. I first stumbled on them almost twenty years ago and every couple of years I will read through them again. I find new things in them each time. When reading them it is best to only read a few at a time and let them marinate so you can really get their full flavor- otherwise quickly reading through them they tend to lose their impact.


I am leaving below a selection of some of my favorites.



5: We have no more say in the duration of our passions than in that of our lives.

19: We all have strength enough to endure the troubles of others.

26: Neither the sun nor death can be looked at steadily.

31: If we had no faults we should not find so much enjoyment in seeing faults in others.

41: People too much taken up with little things usually become incapable of big ones.

56: In order to succeed in the world people do their utmost to appear successful.

59: No occurrences are so unfortunate that the shrewd cannot turn them to some advantage, nor so fortunate that the imprudent cannot turn them to their own disadvantage.

71: There are few people who, when their love for each other is dead, are not ashamed of that love.

73: You can find women who have never had a love affair, but seldom women who have only had one.

75: Love, like fire, cannot survive without continual movement, and it ceases to live as soon as it ceases to hope or fear.

93: Old people are fond of giving good advice; it consoles them for no longer being capable of setting a bad example.

137: When vanity is not prompting us we have little to say.

163: Countless acts that seem ridiculous have hidden reasons that are exceedingly wise and sound.

277: Women often think they are in love when they are not: the business of an intrigue, the emotional flutter of gallantry, natural delight in being loved, and the difficulty of saying no, all these conspire to persuade them that they are being passionate when they are merely being flirtatious.

316: The weak cannot be sincere.

333: In women complete unresponsiveness always goes with dislike.

363: Violence done to us often hurts less than that which we do to ourselves.

367: Few virtuous women are not tired of their way of life.

368: Most virtuous women are hidden treasures, safe only because no one is looking for them.

384: The only thing that should astonish us is that we are still capable of astonishment.

386: Chance reveals virtues and vices as light reveals objects.

421: A feeling of confidence does more for conversation than wit.

448: It is less trouble for the right-thinking to let the wrong-headed have their way than it is to put them right.

474: There are few women whose worth outlasts their beauty.

496: Quarrels would not last long if the fault were on one side only.

533: Most things are praised or decried because it is fashionable to praise or decry them.

544: A true friend is the most precious of all possessions and the one we take the least thought about acquiring.

562: For a woman hell is old age.


If you are interested in reading more here is a link to the book:

La Rochefoucauld Maxims
05-13-2016 08:15 PM
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RE: La Rochefoucauld: A Taste of 17th Century French Red Pill
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05-13-2016 08:57 PM
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Thriller Offline
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RE: La Rochefoucauld: A Taste of 17th Century French Red Pill
Brilliant, you've stoked my curiosity on La Rochefoucauld and I shall seek out his work to enjoy. Thanks Chevalier
05-14-2016 07:02 PM
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Anabasis to Desta Away
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RE: La Rochefoucauld: A Taste of 17th Century French Red Pill
Excellent thread, thanks for introducing us to this man. +1

Here's an online version of his Moral Maxims.

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/9105/9105-h/9105-h.htm
(This post was last modified: 05-15-2016 03:55 AM by Anabasis to Desta.)
05-15-2016 03:43 AM
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RE: La Rochefoucauld: A Taste of 17th Century French Red Pill
Thanks for sharing, never heard of this man before. Love adding timeless tomes to Kindle.

La Rochefoucauld's writing seems crisp, succinct and deeply penetrating. And as relevant now as 400 years ago.

As an aside, now I see where Roissy/Heartiste found inspiration.
05-15-2016 09:27 AM
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cascadecombo Offline
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RE: La Rochefoucauld: A Taste of 17th Century French Red Pill
(05-13-2016 08:15 PM)Chevalier De Seingalt Wrote:  73: You can find women who have never had a love affair, but seldom women who have only had one.

This one really stuck out to me.
05-15-2016 01:18 PM
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RE: La Rochefoucauld: A Taste of 17th Century French Red Pill
Me too

474 is probably the "anthem" of this forum, though
05-18-2016 09:51 AM
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Quintus Curtius Offline
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RE: La Rochefoucauld: A Taste of 17th Century French Red Pill
Good idea, and great suggestion. I had heard of him in some other places but never gave him a hard look. My love for Pascal had blinded me.

I just bought the paperback version on Amazon. I looks like it's only about 130 pages, but aphorisms can be tiring to read. You have to digest them slowly. That's one think I've learned from dealing with other writers who deal with epigrams.

I'll give an update when I get the book.

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05-18-2016 11:56 AM
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RE: La Rochefoucauld: A Taste of 17th Century French Red Pill
497: It is valueless to a woman to be young unless pretty, or to be pretty unless young.
05-21-2016 05:20 AM
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Quintus Curtius Offline
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RE: La Rochefoucauld: A Taste of 17th Century French Red Pill
My copy of the book arrived today. Looks pretty good. It's a slim volume, but that's to be expected. The Penguin edition has an introduction, a "self-portrait", and then launches right into the maxims. Then there is an end section where he lists maxims that he has abrogated or withdrawn.

All in all, a good buy. You can't read this like a regular book. You have to nibble at it, and leave it by your bed-table for easy reference.

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05-24-2016 12:31 PM
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RE: La Rochefoucauld: A Taste of 17th Century French Red Pill
Recommended this to a bunch of guys today. I should start to read a few each day

A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.

A true friend is the most precious of all possessions and the one we take the least thought about acquiring.
08-25-2018 05:58 PM
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RE: La Rochefoucauld: A Taste of 17th Century French Red Pill
08-26-2018 08:49 AM
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