Saturday, March 15, 2008

“As Oscar Wilde said, ‘Hypocrisy is the compliment that vice pays to virtue.”

from an unpublished book :
Wesley Duke Lee ( Tenderness ) at The Metropolitan in New York
by Marguerita

A fine and witty remark to be sure, but one you wouldn’t be wise to depend on as your opening gag in your nightclub act. And one I would guess he knew it might take the rest of us a moment to fully “get.” If then.
But that’s not what bothered me about it. A little voice in me whispered, “Is that Oscar Wilde?” In one of those bizarre coincidences life tickles us with, a French friend had given me, two days before, a volume of famous “Citations” (see tahss ee own) by French wits. Try real hard to believe that among the half dozen she had checkmarked as favorites was that one. Yes. The alleged Wilde.
Last time you were here, Bill, you said, “L’ hypocrisie est un hommage que le vice rend a la vertu.” I forget how it goes in English.
(Can you see why I was sometimes beaten up on the playground?)
Well, you get the idea. I told him that it was in fact, “not Oscar Wilde, who was of course Irish, but Francois de la Rochefoucauld, who, as far as we know, was French.

“L’ hypocrisie est un hommage que le vice rend a la vertu.”

François La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) - François VI, also called le Prince de Marcillac, Duc de la Rochefoucauld.French classical author who is best known for his maximes, epigrams expressing a harsh or paradoxical truth in the briefest manner possible. La Rochefoucauld was a cynical observer of Louis XIV's court, who mostly saw selfishness, hypocrisy, and weakness in general in human behavior. In his pessimism La Rochefoucauld was very democratic - everybody is a sinner.
His insights have influenced amongst others Lord Chesterfield, Thomas Hardy, Friedrich Nietzsche, Stendhal, and André Gide.
In a short sketch of himself La Rouchefoucauld mentions that he loves conversation, especially with women, but has found it hard to be other than "reserved".

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