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The Gay Science: With a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs Mass Market Paperback – Jan 12 1974

4.8 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1 edition (Jan. 12 1974)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394719859
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394719856
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 2.3 x 17.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #67,866 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"[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 Inside Flap

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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By sean s. TOP 500 REVIEWER on Dec 11 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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 who lacks the grace to laugh at himself - I laugh."

On a new dawn and an open sea:

"We philosophers and free spirits feel, when we hear the news that the old god is dead, as if a new dawn shone on us; our heart overflows with gratitude, amazement, premonitions, expectation. At long last the horizon appears free to us again, even if it should not be bright; at long last our ships may venture out again, venture out to face any danger; all the daring of the lover of knowledge is permitted again; the sea, our sea, lies open again; perhaps there has never yet been such an open sea."

On himself:

"In what do you believe? In this, that the weights of all things must be determined anew."

"What does your conscience say? You shall become the person you are."

On the Greeks as artists:

"Oh, those Greeks! They knew how to live. What is required for that is to stop courageously at the surface, the fold, the skin, to adore appearance, to believe in forms, tones, words, in the whole Olympus of appearance. Those Greeks were superficial - out of depth! And is not this precisely what we are again coming back to, we daredevils of the spirit who have climbed the highest and most dangerous peak of present thought and looked around from up there - we who have looked down from there? Are we not, precisely in this respect, Greeks? Adorers of forms, of tones, of words? And therefore - artists?"

On Christian vs.
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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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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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