La Rochefoucauld: Problems of Interpretation

Michael Moriarty

in Disguised Vices

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

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The Maximes went through much revision. Among the most important changes are the discarding of the original prefatory discourse by La Chapelle-Bessé and the inclusion of expressions such as ‘souvent’ or ‘d’ordinaire’ which imply that the reductive analysis of the virtues admits of exceptions. The implications of these changes are analysed. They break, it is argued, the link between the text and the Augustinian critique of the pagan virtues. In particular the exact relationship of the Maximes to Augustinian thought is assessed. It is argued that though they can be said to draw on an Augustinian view of human nature, their critique of false virtue is very different from that propounded by Jansenist theologians, and has little distinctively Augustinian. The conception of virtue it presupposes is more akin to Aristotle’s and indeed Montaigne’s.

Keywords: La Rochefoucauld; Augustinianism; Jansenism; Aristotle; Montaigne

Chapter.  14867 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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