Jean de La Bruyère quotes

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Jean de La Bruyère

Birthdate: 16. August 1645
Date of death: 11. May 1696
Other names: Jean de La Bruyèr

Jean de la Bruyère was a French philosopher and moralist, who was noted for his satire.

Works

Les Caractères
Jean de La Bruyère

„There are but three events in a man's life: birth, life and death. He is not conscious of being born, he dies in pain, and he forgets to live.“

—  Jean de La Bruyère, book Les Caractères

Il n'y a pour l'homme que trois événements: naître, vivre et mourir. Il ne se sent pas naître, il souffre à mourir, et il oublie de vivre.
Aphorism 48
Les Caractères (1688), De l'Homme

„Profound ignorance makes a man dogmatical“

—  Jean de La Bruyère, book Les Caractères

76
Les Caractères (1688), De la société et de la conversation
Context: Profound ignorance makes a man dogmatical; he who knows nothing thinks he can teach others what he just now has learned himself; whilst he who knows a great deal can scarcely imagine any one should be unacquainted with what he says, and, therefore, speaks with more indifference.

„There are certain things in which mediocrity is intolerable: poetry, music, painting, public eloquence.“

—  Jean de La Bruyère, book Les Caractères

Aphorism 7
Les Caractères (1688), Des Ouvrages de l'Esprit
Context: There are certain things in which mediocrity is intolerable: poetry, music, painting, public eloquence. What torture it is to hear a frigid speech being pompously declaimed, or second-rate verse spoken with all a bad poet's bombast!

„What a vast advantage has a speech over a written composition. Men are imposed upon by voice and gesture, and by all that is conducive to enhance the performance.“

—  Jean de La Bruyère, book Les Caractères

Aphorism 27
Les Caractères (1688), De la chaire
Context: What a vast advantage has a speech over a written composition. Men are imposed upon by voice and gesture, and by all that is conducive to enhance the performance. Any little prepossession in favor of the speaker raises their admiration, and then they do their best to comprehend him; they commend his performance before he has begun, but they soon fall off asleep, doze all the time he is preaching, and only wake to applaud him. An author has no such passionate admirers; his works are read at leisure in the country or in the solitude of the study; no public meetings are held to applaud him.... However excellent his book may be, it is read with the intention of finding it but middling; it is perused, discussed, and compared to other works; a book is not composed of transient sounds lost in the air and forgotten; what is printed remains.

„To speak and to offend is with some people but one and the same thing; they are biting and bitter; their words are steeped in gall and wormwood; sneers as well as insolent and insulting words flow from their lips.“

—  Jean de La Bruyère, book Les Caractères

27
Les Caractères (1688), De la société et de la conversation
Context: To speak and to offend is with some people but one and the same thing; they are biting and bitter; their words are steeped in gall and wormwood; sneers as well as insolent and insulting words flow from their lips. It had been well for them had they been born mute or stupid; the little vivacity and intelligence they have prejudices them more than dullness does others; they are not always satisfied with giving sharp answers, they often attack arrogantly those who are present, and damage the reputation of those who are absent; they butt all round like rams — for rams, of course, must use their horns. We therefore do not expect, by our sketch of them, to change such coarse, restless, and stubborn individuals. The best thing a man can do is to take to his heels as soon as he perceives them, without even turning round to look behind him.

„That man is good who does good to others; if he suffers on account of the good he does, he is very good“

—  Jean de La Bruyère, book Les Caractères

Aphorism 44
Les Caractères (1688), Du mérite personnel
Context: That man is good who does good to others; if he suffers on account of the good he does, he is very good; if he suffers at the hands of those to whom he has done good, then his goodness is so great that it could be enhanced only by greater sufferings; and if he should die at their hands, his virtue can go no further: it is heroic, it is perfect.

„False greatness is unsociable and remote. True greatness is free, kind, familiar and popular; it lets itself be touched and handled, it loses nothing by being seen at close quarters; the better one knows it, the more one admires it.“

—  Jean de La Bruyère, book Les Caractères

Aphorism 42
Les Caractères (1688), Du mérite personnel
Context: False greatness is unsociable and remote: conscious of its own frailty, it hides, or at least averts its face, and reveals itself only enough to create an illusion and not be recognized as the meanness that it really is. True greatness is free, kind, familiar and popular; it lets itself be touched and handled, it loses nothing by being seen at close quarters; the better one knows it, the more one admires it.

„The true spirit of conversation consists more in bringing out the cleverness of others than in showing a great deal of it yourself“

—  Jean de La Bruyère, book Les Caractères

16
Les Caractères (1688), De la société et de la conversation
Context: The true spirit of conversation consists more in bringing out the cleverness of others than in showing a great deal of it yourself; he who goes away pleased with himself and his own wit is also greatly pleased with you. Most men would rather please than admire you; they seek less to be instructed, and even to be amused, than to be praised and applauded.

„Outward simplicity befits ordinary men, like a garment made to measure for them; but it serves as an adornment to those who have filled their lives with great deeds“

—  Jean de La Bruyère, book Les Caractères

Aphorism 17
Les Caractères (1688), Du mérite personnel
Context: Outward simplicity befits ordinary men, like a garment made to measure for them; but it serves as an adornment to those who have filled their lives with great deeds: they might be compared to some beauty carelessly dressed and thereby all the more attractive.

„The town is divided into various groups, which form so many little states, each with its own laws and customs, its jargon and its jokes.“

—  Jean de La Bruyère, book Les Caractères

Aphorism 4
Les Caractères (1688), De la ville
Context: The town is divided into various groups, which form so many little states, each with its own laws and customs, its jargon and its jokes. While the association holds and the fashion lasts, they admit nothing well said or well done except by one of themselves, and they are incapable of appeciating anything from another source, to the point of despising those who are not initiated into their mysteries.

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„From time to time there appear on the face of the earth men of rare and consummate excellence, who dazzle us by their virtue, and whose outstanding qualities shed a stupendous light.“

—  Jean de La Bruyère, book Les Caractères

Aphorism 22
Les Caractères (1688), Du mérite personnel
Context: From time to time there appear on the face of the earth men of rare and consummate excellence, who dazzle us by their virtue, and whose outstanding qualities shed a stupendous light. Like those extraordinary stars of whose origins we are ignorant, and of whose fate, once they have vanished, we know even less, such men have neither forebears nor descendants: they are the whole of their race.

„The giving is the hardest part; what does it cost to add a smile?“

—  Jean de La Bruyère, book Les Caractères

[L]e plus fort et le plus pénible est de donner; que coûte-t-il d'y ajouter un sourire?
Aphorism 45
Les Caractères (1688), De la cour

„Women run to extremes; they are either better or worse than men.“

—  Jean de La Bruyère, book Les Caractères

Les femmes sont extrêmes: elles sont meilleures ou pires que les hommes.
Aphorism 53
Les Caractères (1688), Des Femmes

„Horace or Boileau have said such a thing before you.”—”I take your word for it, but I have used it as my own. May I not have the same correct thought after them, as others may have after me?“

—  Jean de La Bruyère, book Les Caractères

Horace ou Despréaux l'a dit avant vous.—Je le crois sur votre parole; mais je l'ai dit comme mien. Ne puis-je pas penser après eux une chose vraie, et que d'autres encore penseront après moi?
Aphorism 69
Les Caractères (1688), Des Ouvrages de l'Esprit

„There is, however, nothing wanting to the idleness of a philosopher but a better name, and that meditation, conversation, and reading should be called “work.”“

—  Jean de La Bruyère, book Les Caractères

Il ne manque cependant à l'oisiveté du sage qu'un meilleur nom, et que méditer, parler, lire, et être tranquille s'appelât travailler.
Aphorism 12
Les Caractères (1688), Du mérite personnel

„Let us not envy a certain class of men for their enormous riches; they have paid such an equivalent for them that it would not suit us; they have given for them their peace of mind, their health, their honour, and their conscience; this is rather too dear, and there is nothing to be made out of such a bargain.“

—  Jean de La Bruyère, book Les Caractères

N'envions point à une sorte de gens leurs grandes richesses; ils les ont à titre onéreux, et qui ne nous accommoderait point: ils ont mis leur repos, leur santé, leur honneur et leur conscience pour les avoir; cela est trop cher, et il n'y a rien à gagner à un tel marché.
Aphorism 13
Les Caractères (1688), Des biens de fortune

„The Opera is obviously the first draft of a fine spectacle; it suggests the idea of one.“

—  Jean de La Bruyère, book Les Caractères

L'on voit bien que l'Opéra est l'ébauche d'un grand spectacle; il en donne l'idée.
Aphorism 47
Les Caractères (1688), Des Ouvrages de l'Esprit

„A Man must be very inert to have no character at all.“

—  Jean de La Bruyère, book Les Caractères

1
Les Caractères (1688), De la société et de la conversation

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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