Books: LA ROCHEFOUCAULD: SAGE & CYNIC

To an age in which "sophistication" may mean anything from talking like Noel Coward to owning a Diners' Club card, the plumed figure of La Rochefoucauld towers at an impressive altitude of worldliness. The eldest son (born in 1613) of an ancient and doughty French clan, Fran├žois de la Rochefoucauld followed with vigor the customs of the royal court, which is to say he carried on a succession of tumultuous affairs with titled ladies, tangled in the incessant intrigues and wars of 17th century France, recovered twice from severe wounds, and at 66...

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