Short summary - The Characters, Or, The Manners Of The Present Age
Jean De La Bruyere
In the preface to his "Characters", the author admits that the purpose of the book is to try to draw attention to the shortcomings of society, "made from nature," with the aim of correcting them.
In each of the 16 chapters, he sets out his "characters" in strict sequence, where he writes the following: "Everything has been said long ago." It is extremely difficult to convince others of the infallibility of their tastes, most often a collection of "nonsense" is obtained. The mediocrity in "poetry, music, painting and oratory" is most unbearable.
There are still no great works written collectively.
Most often, people are guided by "not taste, but addiction."
Do not miss the opportunity to express a commendable opinion on the merits of the manuscript, and do not build it only on someone else's opinion.
The author must calmly accept the "evil criticism", and even more so not to cross out the criticized passages. "The high style of a newspaperman is chattering about politics."
In vain does the writer want to gain admiring praise for his work. Fools admire. The smart ones approve with restraint.
High style reveals this or that truth, provided that the theme is sustained in a noble tone.
"Criticism is sometimes not so much a science as a craft that requires endurance rather than intelligence."
"It is not grateful to create a big name, life is coming to an end, and the work has hardly begun."
Outward simplicity is a wonderful dress for outstanding people.
It's good to be a person "about whom no one asks if he is famous?"
Character is reflected in every act of a person.
False greatness is arrogant, but realizes its weakness and shows itself slightly.
A man's opinion of women is rarely the same as that of women.
Women should be looked at, "not paying attention to their hair and shoes."
There is no sight more beautiful than "a beautiful face, and there is no music sweeter than the sound of a beloved voice."
Female perfidy is useful in that "it cures men of jealousy."
If two women, your friends, quarreled, "then you have to choose between them, or lose both."
Women know how to love more than men, "but men are more capable of friendship."
"A man observes someone else's secret, a woman hers."
The heart becomes inflamed suddenly, friendship takes time.
We love those to whom we do good, and we hate those whom we offend.
"There is no excess more beautiful than the excess of gratitude."
"There is nothing more colorless than the character of a colorless person."
A smart person is never annoying.
To be delighted with yourself and your mind is a misfortune.
The talent of the interlocutor is distinguished "not by the one who speaks himself, but the one with whom others willingly talk."
Continued after the ad:
"Do not reject the praise - you will come across as rude."
“The father-in-law does not love the son-in-law, the father-in-law loves the daughter-in-law; the mother-in-law loves her son-in-law, the mother-in-law does not love her daughter-in-law: everything in the world is balanced ”. "It is easier and more useful to adjust to someone else's temper than to adjust someone else's disposition to your own."
"The tendency to ridicule speaks of the poverty of the mind."
Friends mutually strengthen each other in views and forgive each other's minor flaws.
Do not give advice in a secular society, you will only harm yourself.
"A dogmatic tone is always the result of profound ignorance."
"Do not try to expose the rich fool to ridicule - all ridicule is on his side."
The wealth of other people is acquired at the cost of peace, health, honor, conscience - do not envy them.
In any business, you can get rich by pretending to be honest.
Anyone who has been elevated by luck in the game, "does not want to know with his peers and clings only to the nobles."
It is not surprising that there are many gambling houses, it is surprising how many people are giving these houses a livelihood. "It is unforgivable for a decent person to play, to risk a big loss is too dangerous a boy."
"The decline of the people of judicial and military rank is that their expenses are commensurate not with income, but with their position."
The metropolitan society is divided into circles “like small states: they have their own laws, customs, jargon. But the age of these circles is not long - at most two years. "
The vanity of the inhabitants of the capital is more disgusting than the rudeness of commoners.
"You have found a devoted friend, if, having ascended, he did not get to know you."
A high and difficult position is easier to take than to keep. "Making promises at court is just as dangerous as it is difficult not to make them."
Impudence is a character trait, a congenital defect.
"There are two paths leading to a high position: a well-trodden straight road and a roundabout path, which is much shorter."
Do not expect sincerity, justice, help and constancy from a person who came to the court with a secret intention to rise. "A new minister has many friends and relatives overnight." "Life at court is a serious, cold and intense game." And the luckiest one wins.
"The slave depends only on his master, the ambitious - on everyone who is able to help his rise."
"A good wit is a bad man." From cunning to cheating - one step, it is necessary to add a lie to the cunning, and you get cheating.
The nobles recognize perfection only for themselves, but the only thing that cannot be taken away from them is a large property and a long line of ancestors. "They don't want to learn anything - not just governing the state, but also governing their home."
The doorman, valet, and footman judge themselves by the nobility and wealth of those they serve.
It is dangerous to participate in a dubious undertaking, it is even more dangerous to be with a nobleman. He will get out at your expense.
Courage is a special spirit of mind and heart that is passed from ancestors to descendants.
Do not put your trust in the nobles, they rarely take the opportunity to do us good. "They are guided only by the dictates of feeling, succumbing to the first impression."
“It is best to keep silent about the mighty of this world. Speaking well is almost always flattering, speaking badly is dangerous while they are alive, and mean when they are dead. "
The wisest thing is to come to terms with the way of government in which you were born.
The subjects of the despot have no homeland. The thought of her is supplanted by self-interest, ambition, servility.
“A minister or an ambassador is a chameleon. He hides his true character and puts on the right mask at the moment. All his designs, moral rules, political tricks serve one task - not to be deceived by oneself and deceive others. "
The monarch lacks only one thing - the joys of private life.
The favorite is always alone, he has no attachments or friends.
"Everything flourishes in a country where no one makes a distinction between the interests of the state and the sovereign."
In one respect people are constant: they are evil, vicious, indifferent to virtue.
"Stoicism is an empty play of the mind, an invention." A person actually loses his temper, despairs, and shouts. “Rogues tend to think that everyone else is like them; they do not fall into deception, but they themselves do not deceive others for a long time. "
"Stamp paper is a shame for humanity: it was invented to remind people that they made promises, and to catch them when they deny it."
"Life is what people most of all strive to preserve and least of all cherish."
There is no such flaw or bodily imperfection that children would not notice, as soon as they discover it, they take over the adults and cease to reckon with them.
"People live too shortly to learn from their own mistakes."
"Bias reduces the greatest man to the level of the most narrow-minded commoner."
Health and wealth, saving a person from bitter experience, make him indifferent; people, themselves dejected by sorrows, are much more compassionate to their neighbors.
"A man of a mediocre mind is as if cut out of one piece: he is always serious, he does not know how to joke."
High positions make great people even more great, insignificant ones - even more insignificant.
"An old man in love is one of the greatest deformities in nature."
"Finding a vain person who considers himself happy is as difficult as finding a humble person who considers himself too unhappy."
“Manners of gestures, speech and behavior are often the result of idleness or indifference; great feeling and serious deed return a person to his natural appearance ”.
"The great surprises us, the insignificant repels, and the habit" reconciles with both. "
“The title of comedian was considered shameful among the Romans and honorary among the Greeks. What is the position of actors with us? We look at them like the Romans, but we treat them like the Greeks. "
"Languages are just a key to science, but contempt for them casts a shadow on it too."
"You should not judge a person by the face - it only allows you to make assumptions."
"A person whose intelligence and abilities are recognized by all does not seem ugly, even if he is ugly - no one notices his ugliness." “A narcissistic person is one in whom fools see an abyss of merits. It is a cross between a fool and an impudent person, there is something of both in it ”.
"Talkativeness is one of the signs of limitation."
The more our neighbors are like us, the more we like them.
"The flatterer has an equal low opinion of himself and of others."
"Freedom is not idleness, but the ability to freely dispose of your time and choose your occupation." He who does not know how to use his time efficiently is the first to complain about its lack.
For a lover of rarities, not what is solid or beautiful is dear, but what is unusual and outlandish and he has only one.
"A woman who has become fashionable is like that unnamed blue flower that grows in the fields, suppresses the ears, ruins the harvest and takes the place of useful cereals."
“A reasonable person wears what the tailor tells him; despising fashion is as unwise as following it too much. "
"Even beautiful ceases to be beautiful when it is out of place."
“They charge more for weddings from parishioners than for christenings, and christenings are more expensive than confession; thus, a tax is levied on the sacraments, which, as it were, determines their relative merit. "
"Torture is an amazing invention that reliably destroys an innocent person if he is weak in health, and saves a criminal if he is strong and hardy."
"The orders made by the dying in wills are treated by people as the words of oracles: everyone understands and interprets them in their own way, according to their own desires and interests."
"People have never trusted doctors and have always used their services." Until people stop dying, doctors will be showered with ridicule and money.
Charlatans deceive those who want to be deceived.
"Christian preaching has now turned into a performance," no one ponders the meaning of the word of God, "for preaching has become primarily fun, a game of chance, where some compete and others bet."
"Speakers are like the military in one respect: they take more risks than people in other professions, but they rise faster." How great is the advantage of the living word over the written one.
Enjoying health, people doubt the existence of God, just as they do not see a sin in closeness with especially light morals; as soon as they get sick, they abandon their concubine and begin to believe in the creator.
"The impossibility of proving that there is no God convinces me that he exists."
"If the need for something disappears, the arts, sciences, inventions, mechanics will disappear."
La Bruyere ends the book with the words: “If the reader does not approve of these 'Characters', I will be surprised; if he approves, I will still be surprised. "