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The Oxford Book of Aphorisms [Paperback]

John Gross
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 24 2003 0192804561 978-0192804563
This anthology demonstrates to the full just how rewarding an art form the aphorism can be, and just how brilliantly the aphorist can illuminate the hidden truth, or lay bare the ironies of existence. Specific sections including 'Religion', 'Money and Rank', 'Men, Women, Marriage' and 'Politics', cover the whole range of aphoristic literature. This book brings together the most diverse figures-the classic aphorists, like La Rochefoucauld; the philosophers, from the Greeks to Samuel Johnson to Virginia Woolf-as well as statesmen, scientists, boulevardiers, Olympians, and gadflies. John Gross draws on their wisdom and wit to produce an anthology that will be referred to time and time again.

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Review

`Review from previous edition 'entertaining, thoughtful, splendidly varied'' Kingsley Amis

`'an admirable collection'' Anthony Burgess

`'And now, from the people who bring you the best anthologies, one of their best anthologies'' Christopher Ricks, Sunday Times

`'a really splendid book'' Observer

`'fascinating ... [the reader] will experience the delight of having his worst fears for the human race confirmed with brevity and style'' Quentin Crisp

About the Author

John Gross was editor of the Times Literary Supplement from 1974 to 1981 and on the staff of the New York Times from 1983 to 1988. He has been theatre critic of the Sunday Telegraph since 1989 and is the editor of other Oxford anthologies and After Shakespeare: An Anthology, published this year to rave reviews.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Writing tools April 23 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Find this quite interesting. Adding to my Roget's and other books about quotes. Sometimes have to write articles and this sort of thing is useful.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Serve up some wisdom on your coffee table Nov. 18 2003
Format:Paperback
This is an ideal book for the coffee table, guest bedroom, or bathroom, but also one that will stand proudly on the bookshelf next to Bartlett's Famous Quotations and other prestigious literary reference books. The entries are witty, entertaining, often quite profound, and well organized throughout. The sources are varied but nearly all of the names are widely recognizable.
An aphorism is defined as "a short, pithy statement containing a truth of general import." In the introduction to this volume John Gross offers several distinguishing characteristics of the aphorism. Though the term 'maxim' is often used as its synonym, an aphorism is considered more speculative, and sometimes more subversive than a maxim. While aphorisms offer insights and wisdom, they differ from proverbs in that they are not apocryphal. And while they are universal, they also generally bear the personal mark of the author.
Goethe, Nietzsche, Chekhov, Voltaire, Spinoza, Wilde, Yeats, James...but a few of the authors included in this book.
To give a flavor of the kinds of entries, consider these from the chapter on religion.
"Probably no invention came more easily to man than Heaven."
"Heathen, n. A benighted creature who has the folly to worship something that he can see and feel."
"If God created us in his own image, we have more than reciprocated."
And if you don't like those, there are fifty other chapters to choose from.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Serve up some wisdom on your coffee table Nov. 18 2003
By Matthew Krichman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is an ideal book for the coffee table, guest bedroom, or bathroom, but also one that will stand proudly on the bookshelf next to Bartlett's Famous Quotations and other prestigious literary reference books. The entries are witty, entertaining, often quite profound, and well organized throughout. The sources are varied but nearly all of the names are widely recognizable.
An aphorism is defined as "a short, pithy statement containing a truth of general import." In the introduction to this volume John Gross offers several distinguishing characteristics of the aphorism. Though the term `maxim' is often used as its synonym, an aphorism is considered more speculative, and sometimes more subversive than a maxim. While aphorisms offer insights and wisdom, they differ from proverbs in that they are not apocryphal. And while they are universal, they also generally bear the personal mark of the author.
Goethe, Nietzsche, Chekhov, Voltaire, Spinoza, Wilde, Yeats, James...but a few of the authors included in this book.
To give a flavor of the kinds of entries, consider these from the chapter on religion.
"Probably no invention came more easily to man than Heaven."
"Heathen, n. A benighted creature who has the folly to worship something that he can see and feel."
"If God created us in his own image, we have more than reciprocated."
And if you don't like those, there are fifty other chapters to choose from.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, Brittle, and Erudite Feb. 7 2007
By N. Coppedge - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book is dark verging on sardonic, reflecting the dark, sardonic nature of the best epigrams of our age. I was inspired to respond in the margins to a number of them, and I can't think of a better response to epigrams in general, than for them to get under your prickly skin to the extent that you might write your own ironic counterstatements. Bloodshed begets bloodshed, and so we might say (ironically) that this sort of bitterness begets bitterness. But it may very well be the most brilliant bitterness you've known.

Some of my favorite quotes with my responses--representative in the extreme:

"Where they burn books they will also in the end burn human bodies"--Heine, <<Almansor: A Tragedy>>, 1823

"Where they burn human beings, they will also, in the end, burn the wrong book"--Eucaleh Terrapin

"A secret may sometimes be best kept by keeping the secret of its being a secret"--Sir Henry Taylor, <<The Statesman>>, 1823

"Thus the wisest proverb is common sense"--Eucaleh Terrapin

"Freedom produces jokes, and jokes produce freedom"--Jean Paul Richter, Introduction to Aesthetics, 1823

"But to be witty is to be serious about other comedians"--Eucaleh Terrapin
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brief, Illuminating, and Satifying April 21 2011
By Eric H. Roth - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again," noted Andre Gide in 1891, opening this outstanding collection of classical and modern aphorisms.

My well-worn copy has been highlighted, marked, and frequently consulted over the last few years. It's a portable treasure of insights and insanities, both providing pleasures and possibilities. And, as one would expect from an Oxford collection, the this exceptional academic book includes the context and date for each quote. As a life-long lover of quotations and proverbs, I strongly recommend this authoritative collection of aphorisms.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One last aphorism Feb. 24 2007
By M. Logar - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Those are the bitter pills of civilization. Like other bitter pills, they have great healing power. As a matter of fact, if the World took more notice of those pearls of wisdom, produced by outstanding minds, from Heraclitus to the Huxleys, policies might be less absurd and mass actions less disastrous than they actually are.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book; very useful March 12 2008
By Henri P. Salle - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My wife is a text book writer and has found this gift text to be quite valuable. Recommended
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