Born in Paris in 1613 to an aristocratic family, La Rochefoucauld went on to fight in the Fronde, a series of revolts by rebel noblemen against an overreaching monarchy. Badly injured in the conflict and jaded by the treachery of court politics, he retreated from the battlefield to write his memoirs, later perfecting the art of the aphorism in his Maximes of 1665, short and often startlingly unsentimental reflections on life, love, and ego.

To establish ourselves in the world we do everything to appear as if we were established.

We are never so ridiculous from the habits we have as from those that we affect to have.

No people are more often wrong than those who will not allow themselves to be wrong.

As it is the mark of great minds to say many things in a few words, so it is that of little minds to use many words to say nothing.

Nothing is given so profusely as advice.

The extreme delight we take in talking of ourselves should warn us that it is not shared by those who listen.

One of the reasons that we find so few persons rational and agreeable in conversation is there is hardly a person who does not think more of what he wants to say than of his answer to what is said.

Ideas often flash across our minds more complete than we could make them after much labour.

A man would rather say evil of himself than say nothing.

True eloquence consists in saying all that should be, not all that could be said.

If it was not for the company of fools, a witty man would often be greatly at a loss.

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