To cut off your nose to spite your face…..

Paparazzi and gossip columnists aren’t new. News sheets, pamphlets and  satiric  poems  have  been in existence for centuries, often stridently attacking the Establishment.

In late 17th-century France  no high-profile figure  was  safe from the chatty but vicious  observations of French gossip    Gedeon Tallemant  des  Reaux.  His  targets  included  the  King,  the Cardinals,  the  aristocrats  and  the  members of the military.  His  acerbic Historiettes  were completed around 1659 but not published until well after his death. They contained references to a potentially disasterous foreign policy which King  Henry  IV  was  contemplating,  but  of which Tallemant disapproved. He commented that if the King followed his plan:

Se  couper le nez pour faire depit  a son visage.

He would be ‘cutting off his nose to spite his face’

The expression has since become a blanket term for (often unwise) self-destructive actions motivated purely by anger or desire for revenge. For example, if a man was angered by his wife, he might burn down their house to punish her; however, burning down her house would also mean burning down his, along with all of their possessions.







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