Reading La Rochefoucauld

Michael Moriarty

in Disguised Vices

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199589371
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191728808 | DOI:
Reading La Rochefoucauld

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Different critical approaches to La Rochefoucauld are summed up. The context in which the Maximes emerged is described: the failure of the aristocratic revolt known as the Fronde, La Rochefoucauld’s involvement in which blighted his relations with Louis XIV; his family connections with supporters of Jansenism; and his collaboration in writing maxims with Mme de Sablé and Jacques Esprit. Sablé’s own maxims are discussed. Readers’ responses to an early version of the Maximes are examined: some see it as an attack on virtue itself, others as an Augustinian attack on pagan and in general human virtue. The presentation of the first edition of the work tends to endorse the latter reading: the prefatory ‘Discours’ by La Chapelle-Bessé is analysed in detail, as Augustinian in spirit but not specifically Jansenist.

Keywords: La Rochefoucauld; Fronde; Jansenism; Mme de Sablé; Jacques Esprit; Henri de La Chapelle-Bessé

Chapter.  14311 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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