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The Gay Science: With a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs [Mass Market Paperback]

Friedrich Nietzsche , Walter Kaufmann
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 12 1974
Nietzsche called The Gay Science "the most personal of all my books." It was here that he first proclaimed the death of God -- to which a large part of the book is devoted -- and his doctrine of the eternal recurrence.

Walter Kaufmann's commentary, with its many quotations from previously untranslated letters, brings to life Nietzsche as a human being and illuminates his philosophy. The book contains some of Nietzsche's most sustained discussions of art and morality, knowledge and truth, the intellectual conscience and the origin of logic.

Most of the book was written just before Thus Spoke Zarathustra, the last part five years later, after Beyond Good and Evil. We encounter Zarathustra in these pages as well as many of Nietzsche's most interesting philosophical ideas and the largest collection of his own poetry that he himself ever published.

Walter Kaufmann's English versions of Nietzsche represent one of the major translation enterprises of our time. He is the first philosopher to have translated Nietzsche's major works, and never before has a single translator given us so much of Nietzsche.

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The Gay Science: With a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs + The Will to Power + The Genealogy of Morals
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"[This book] mirrors all of Nietzsche's thought and could be related in hundreds of ways to his other books, his notes, and his letters. And yet it is complete in itself. For it is a work of art."

-- Walter Kaufmann in the Introduction

From the Back Cover

"[This book] mirrors all of Nietzsche's thought and could be related in hundreds of ways to his other books, his notes, and his letters. And yet it is complete in itself. For it is a work of art."

-- Walter Kaufmann in the Introduction

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Pretty Serious Gay Science Oct. 29 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
It's hard to give a cursory review of a book of aphorisms. This edition of 'The Gay Science' however comes with observations by the superlative Nietzschian commentator, Walter Kaufmann, who says that "this book is a microcosm in which we find almost all of Nietzsche: epigrams and songs, aphorisms and...philosophical problems, ethics and theory of knowledge, reflections on art and on the death of God, the eternal recurrence and even Zarathustra." This is about as good a review of 'The Gay Science' as any.
I must say that of the 4 other Nietzschian works I have read (BG&E, Geneology of Morals, BOT, and Antichrist) this is the best, most complete, and most enjoyable so far. This book showcases Nietzsche for what is probably his most noticable strength: his ability as a psychologist and sociologist. He seems to have a good understanding of the types of innate moves people possess and utilize in their respective environments. Probably his understanding of exatcly what that environment is, namely, his sense of objective reality, is what allows him to comment so precisely on human nature. True, he's an indefensibly offensive misogynist and war monger, and that notwhithstanding, many of his observations are still germane in this day and age, which suggests an accute sense of psychology and anthropology on his part; although naturally a bit dated. Of course, I believe that in modern America we tend to discount the utter sagacity of 19th century Europeans in their pragmatism. Perhaps Nietzsche just seems sagacious compared to the discourse of present day America. His comments on hegemony, or how the ruling class manipulates the masses into cooperation are great. Nietzsche's love of science and his comments on the silliness of self-proclaimed objective types is excellent too.
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This is both a review and a Kritik of the "Montreal Readers" review. I happen to love the writings of Nietzsche, in my opinion he is the most important philosophical figure ever to walk this planet. However, do not listen to the "Montreal Readers" comments, he or she does not even know the title of the orignial piece, in this persons review it states the "La Gaya Scieza" when in actuality the original title in the german is Di Froliche Wissenschaft.
This book is a masterpiece, one of Nietzsche's most beautifully written books in which he paints a picture with witty and glamorous aphorisms. Many themes such as the Eternal Reccurance and the Death of God come into plsy and we get a glimpse of Nietzsche's nihilism. My advice is to read Ecce Homo and twilight of the idols before develving into this book. Nietzsche called it his most personal of books, and from reading it and studying Nietzsche myself I believe it to be as well. But that does not mean one should start with this book. One needs to learn and get personal with Nietzsche and gather an understanding of his concepts and ideas before anyone should dive into this work.
It is a masterpiece, but a work that is substantial and one of his longer works. Take a test drive with Nietzsche and if you want to read more, go and read this work.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the few books that EVERYone should read... Jan. 31 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book represents a struggle to come to grips with an encroaching modern/(post)modern worldview that has effectively stripped meaning from our lives. It is a struggle that all of us must undertake. I believe this book to be one of Nietzsche's best (surpassed perhaps only by _Zarathustra_--but an entirely different work/world). This book presents us with struggle after struggle, thought after thought, and perhaps it is not as important to recognize or agree with Nietzsche's assertions (i.e. the death of God) than to struggle with them, to define yourself and overcome yourself in the process. It is, in many ways, a literary puberty, a linguistic metamorphosis, whereby the self becomes and overcomes itsself time and time again.
I've probably "read" this book five or six times--(I cannot exactly count because it doesn't really read like a book-I read and re-read aphorisms within the book, rather than attempting to approach it as a linear book with a linear argument with linear assumptions and linear supports. This book is play, it is frustration, it is one of the most vivid explorations and presentations of life I have ever seen in print. Nietzsche, in the text is not an atheist, he is not a Nazi, he is not a racist, he is not an existentialist or a postmodernist or a psychologist or even a philosopher--Nietzsche is a human being and his book re-presents that humanity even as it forces and presses us to become our own human being, our own self.
I would recommend this book to everyone--though not without trepidation. One should not look for arguments for or against the existence of god in this book, one should not look for answers or even Nietzsche's answers to questions of existence. One SHOULD, I believe, look for a struggle, a struggle for you--YOURSELF to overcome.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amor Fati Sept. 21 2000
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Nietzsche's The Gay Science proposes an antidote to the condition of contemporary scholarship. As opposed to what he saw as contemporary scholars' ant-like drudgery in amassing facts, he recommends "the gay science," a kind of scholarship that would be lighthearted and deliberately "superficial--out of profundity" as he claims that the Greeks were. Aware of the murkier aspects of human existence, the ancient Athenians responded by taking aesthetic delight in life and becoming "adorers of forms, tones, of words." In his own era, in which many felt incapable of transforming reality, Nietzsche proposed that this would be the appropriate convalescence for scholars, as it had been for him in his own personal life.
In The Gay Science, the infamous statement "God is dead" appears for the first time. The most important mention of this belief comes in the section called "The Madman." The madman in this section appears in the marketplace and makes the announcement "God is dead" to the scientific atheists who have gathered there. After the atheists merely laugh at him, the madman realizes that he has come too early, and he goes around to different towns singing funeral hymns during masses.
This parable suggests the inappropriateness of the popular characterization of Nietzsche as the hardened atheist who delights in nothing more than debunking other people's beliefs. Nevertheless, the perspective that Nietzsche proposes throughout The Gay Science is naturalistic and aesthetic, in opposition to traditional religious views. Indeed, many of the work's sections might be considered practical advice for the spiritually sensitive atheist who is concerned lest he or she return to old religious habits out of desperation.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Praise for Nietzsche's Best
Upon just reading the first aphorism in Book I of the Gay Science, I already find something to marvel about. Nietzsche is the Shakespeare of Philosophy. Read more
Published 10 months ago by D
5.0 out of 5 stars A new dawn and an open sea
The Gay Science was first published in 1882.

Nietzsche opens with the following words: "I live in my own place, have never copied anybody even half, and at any master... Read more
Published on Dec 11 2010 by sean s.
5.0 out of 5 stars An Under-rated piece of work?
It has to be said that from all of Nietzsche's works, the "Gaya Scienza" has to be the most under-rated of Nietzsche's works. Read more
Published on Feb. 23 2004 by shoayb adamm
5.0 out of 5 stars After having read the book...
and having glanced over some reviews I have come to a conclusion, particularly about C. Khidr's review- Penguin classics was right- misinterpretation is very abundant... Read more
Published on Dec 29 2003 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Nietzsche
I would have to say that this is my favorite piece of literature from Nietzsche. This book is where the Myth of Eternal Recurrence is first explicitly mentioned in the aphorism of... Read more
Published on Dec 15 2003 by M. Keisler
4.0 out of 5 stars I wonder...
I know from reading previous works of Nietzsche that he contracted syphilis and during the last 10 or so years of his life gradually became insane. Read more
Published on Oct. 20 2003 by J. Grabin
5.0 out of 5 stars No serious bookreader
can come away from this book without it getting uder your skin. The Gay Science is Nietzsche's first "must-read" book, full of the danger and viciousness that is his true... Read more
Published on May 16 2003 by Ronald Battista
5.0 out of 5 stars A little perception
Too many people have the courage to discuss and argue about Nietzsche ideas, but certainly a few have the ability to understand it within the context and I am writing this... Read more
Published on Dec 12 2001 by EB
4.0 out of 5 stars Mature Philsophy of Nietzsch Takes Its Shape
Most of the concepts of Nietzsche's mature philosophy can be found in this book. Nevertheless, the book is not overly serious or dull, Nietzsche is trying to be ticklish and... Read more
Published on Feb. 24 2001 by unraveler
5.0 out of 5 stars possibly the best of Nietzsche's later works
This is my favorite work of Nietzsche's. This book, among other things, contains two key announcements that will shape Nietzsche's next work, "Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Read more
Published on Feb. 15 2001 by "timmyjones"
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