Meditations: A New Translation Paperback – May 6 2003
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One measure, perhaps, of a book's worth, is its intergenerational pliancy: do new readers acquire it and interpret it afresh down through the ages? The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, translated and introduced by Gregory Hays, by that standard, is very worthwhile, indeed. Hays suggests that its most recent incarnation--as a self-help book--is not only valid, but may be close to the author's intent. The book, which Hays calls, fondly, a "haphazard set of notes," is indicative of the role of philosophy among the ancients in that it is "expected to provide a 'design for living.'" And it does, both aphoristically ("Think of yourself as dead. You have lived your life. Now take what's left and live it properly.") and rhetorically ("What is it in ourselves that we should prize?"). Whether these, and other entries ("Enough of this wretched, whining monkey life.") sound life-changing or like entries in a teenager's diary is up to the individual reader, as it should be. Hays's introduction, which sketches the life of Marcus Aurelius (emperor of Rome A.D. 161-180) as well as the basic tenets of stoicism, is accessible and jaunty. --H. O'Billovich --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“Here, for our age, is [Marcus’s] great work presented in its entirety, strongly introduced and freshly, elegantly translated.” —Robert FaglesSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
1964: When force of circumstance upsets your equanimity, lose no time in recovering your self-control, and do not remain out-of-tune longer than you can help. Habitual recurrence to the harmony will increase your mastery of it.
2002: When jarred, unavoidably, by circumstances, revert at once to yourself, and don't lose the rhythm more than you can help. You'll have a better grasp of the harmony if you keep going back to it.
1964: Adapt yourself to the environment in which your life has been cast, and show true love to the fellow-mortals with whom destiny has surrounded you.
2002: The things ordained for you - teach yourself to be at one with those. And the people who share them with you - treat them with love. With real love.
The 1964 version is regal, while the 2002 (Hays') version is Aurelius writing, quickly, in a spiral notebook while on horseback, the equivalent of "memo to myself."
Reading this book is like taking a cold shower, or visiting a favorite bartender, who insists on serving you coffee, not drink. Hays has brought us a Marcus Aurelius who puts his hand on your shoulder, looks you in the eye, and tells you like it is: Get over yourself. You can't change the world. Do your best and realize you are of this earth. Human experience is muddy, so what? This book is best read in tough times, when you could use a little steel in your spine.
This is a must-have book for the nightstand of anyone living a contemplative life, a profound precursor to modern self-help books written by a Renaissance man who lived centuries before the Renaissance.
There is no plot to summarize here, no accurate generalizations to be made. One gets the idea that these are thoughts the author jotted down, sometimes between appointments and sometimes after months of contemplation. Often they are obvious, sometimes they are obscure. They can seem rooted in history, and at times based on today's current events. They can be funny, surprising, or sad. But they are almost always worthwhile.
A final note: I have two editions of this book, and while I think both this one and the Hicks' translation are very good, I prefer this by a small degree.
Professor Hays has written an excellent introduction to his translation which can be read with benefit by those coming to the "Meditations" for the first time and by those familiar with the work. There is a brief discussion of Marcus's life, his philosophical studies, and his tenure as emperor of Rome (161-180 A.D.) Hays spends more time on the philosophical background of Marcus's thought emphasizing ancient stoicism and of the philosophy of Heraclitus. He discusses the concept of "logos", a critical term for Marcus and for later thought, and argues that logos -- or the common reason that pervades man and the universe -- is as much a process as it is a substance. This is difficult, but insightful.
Hays obviously has a great love for Marcus's book and has thought about it well. He is able to offer critical observations which will help the reader focus in studying the Meditations.Read more ›
I still wouldn't necessarily call this book a thrill-a-minute, page-turner of suspense, but thanks to a more contemporary language-treatment, the experience is a whole lot less burdensome to get through. The ride may not be the best fun you've ever had reading a book, but it's considerably less painful now, thanks to this "user-friendly" updated version.
Comparison to older translations shows it to be accurate in meaning and tone, and if he were alive today, I think Marcus Aurelius would recommend this version of his work for us (as modern readers) to enjoy for years to come.
Most recent customer reviews
This book is one to read casually, or intensely. The messages it sends on every page can alter your understanding of your own life in such beautiful ways. Read morePublished 10 days ago by Amazon Customer
Great read, at times you do get a little lost due to the fact it's just a s*** load of notes that Marcus has put together throughout his life. Read morePublished 22 days ago by Matt Speciale
I heard of the writings of Marcus Aurelius through Robin Sharma. This edition contains excellent maxims and aphorisms on the brilliant musings of Marcus Aurelius.Published 4 months ago by Roslyn Vinita Chand
I have never read a book in this category before, but I just could not appreciate the "modern" feel of this translation. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Benjamin J. Stevens
Not what I expected. Too much about Roman emperor history. Found it boring but eventually got through it.Published 6 months ago by Steve E