Maxims from the Marquis de Vauvenargues 

I have a copy of The Oxford Book of Aphorisms, which I enjoy going through and sharing some of my favourites here.

The book, edited by John Gross, contains plenty of authors I’ve heard of and read before, but one name that kept coming up amongst the aphorisms I’d highlighted was ‘Vauvenargues’.

The Wikipedia entry for Vauvenargues is short, as befits someone who died aged 31 and who is known chiefly for being a friend of Voltaire’s. It would seem that, despite being from French nobility, his family was poor. He contracted smallpox which gave him a chronic cough and further damaged his already-poor eyesight. He lived the last few years of his life as a recluse in Paris.

The chief distinction between Vauvenargues and his predecessor Fran├žois de La Rochefoucauld is that Vauvenargues thinks nobly of man, and is altogether inclined rather to the Stoic than to the Epicurean theory. He has been called a modern Stoic.


After a quick search on Amazon, the only thing I could find was a cheap and poorly-formatted book with some selections from the Marquis de Vauvenargues’ Characters, Reflections, and Maxims.

I’ve just started reading the selections from Vauvenargues’ Maxims, so here are a few that I’ve highlighted:

It is easier to say new things than to reconcile those which have already been said.

We rarely fathom another’s thoughts; consequently of it happens that later a similar reflection occurs to is, so many sides does it present which had escaped us that we are easily persuaded it is new.

Courage has more resources against misfortune than has reason.

Servitude degrades men even to making them love it.

I’ve added the slim book to my morning reading, so will be sharing more from the Maxims over the coming days and weeks.