François de la Rochefoucauld (Geary’s Guide, pp. 131–134) cast a cynical, clinical eye on human vanity and personal weakness. Jack Mitchell, associate professor, Roman history at Dalhousie University, translates—literally and figuratively—the Duc’s devastating aphoristic observations for contemporary readers. The literal translation comes in Reflections, or Moral Opinions and Maxims: A Bilingual Edition, Mitchell’s rendering of Rochefoucauld’s Maxims in English; the figurative translation comes in D, or 500 Maxims, Aphorisms, & Reflections, Mitchell’s own aphorisms, which parallel the themes of the Duc’s rueful exploration of the human psyche. The books refresh Rochefoucauld’s voice and add Mitchell’s own to the grand tradition of the moral aphorism. A selection from Mitchell’s sayings…
The apocalypse is the easy way out.
Misers live for a moment that never arrives.
The wise suffer from an excess of moderation.
Life would not seem so short if we could remember it.
A reader’s library is his only true biography.
Sketches are the aphorism of the hand.
Only the studious discover what is not worth learning.
To learn, read; to know, reread.