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The Waste Books (New York Review Books…

The Waste Books (New York Review Books Classics) (edition 2000)

by Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

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339854,029 (4.39)5
The most celebrated of Lichtenberg's works, The Waste Books demonstrate an unflagging intelligence and encyclopedic curiosity. Wittily deflating the pretensions of learning and society and examining a range of philosophical questions, he tracks his own thoughts down hidden pathways to disconcerting and sometimes hilarious conclusions. The Waste Books have been greatly admired by writers as different as Tolstoy, Einstein, and Andr Breton, while Nietzsche and Wittgenstein acknowledged them as a significant inspiration for their own radical work in philosophy. The record of a brilliant and subtle mind in action, they are above all a powerful testament to the necessity, and pleasure, of unfettered thought.… (more)
Title:The Waste Books (New York Review Books Classics)
Authors:Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
Info:NYRB Classics (2000), Paperback, 264 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Waste Books by Georg Christoph Lichtenberg



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A gem. From now on Lichtenberg will rest side by side with my Plutarch Moralia, Gracian Oracle, Montaigne Essays and Scopenhauer Parerga and Paralipomena. ( )
  Westwest | Oct 31, 2019 |
Man loves company, even if it is only that of a smouldering candle.
Lichtenberg's THE WASTE BOOKS is a book I've been dipping into for years and years. Chock-full of humorous, insightful, wise and quirky thoughts and observations, it is a great book to have on one's bedside table. Within its pages the reader will discover a mix of brilliantly crafted aphorisms, philosophical jottings and sketches, linguistic experiments, proverbs, jokes and curious phrases - 1,085 entries in all. Highly recommended to those who enjoy "wit and wisdom" in equal measure.
The most successful tempters and thus the most dangerous are the deluded deluders. - Notebook F, aphorism 120. ( )
  BlackGlove | Jan 20, 2018 |
Fantastic. ( )
  ChewingPencils | Oct 21, 2015 |
Through the wonderful Gert Hoffmann's Lichtenberg and the Little Flower Girl I came to Georg Christoph Lichtenberg's The Waste Books, which, alas! after more than a year of judiciously timed reading, I have finished. The selection of observations by this 18th-century scientist and professor was made and nimbly translated by the late R.J. Hollingdale, who also supplied admirably few notes to identify people mentioned or other specifics.

The title is Lichtenberg's own, drawn from the books which, in English business practice, transactions are entered as they occur during the day, before being transferred to permanent accounts. They're not diaries, which Lichtenberg also kept, but ideas as they occur. Not everyone enjoys this sort of noting down of the thoughts: I offer a few below, from the dozens I marked as I read, as a sample of the pleasures to be found.

The man was such an intellectual he was of almost no use. p. 55

Ideas too are a life and a world. p. 91

Presupposing we do not regard ourselves as an object of observation like a prepared specimen but always as the sum of what we now are, we are lost if we acquire too much time for reflecting on ourselves. We become aware of so much that is dismal and wretched that at the sight of it all desire to organize it or hold it together departs from us. p. 157

The Socratic method intensified -- I mean torture. p.204

1 vote V.V.Harding | Apr 21, 2015 |
I first heard of Lichtenberg in Clive James’ Cultural Amnesia, which might well be my most costly purchase of all since it gave me so many unfamiliar names to go through. The Waste Books are just that, a collection of what were called ‘waste books’ (simply notebooks in modern terms) which Lichtenberg kept over the course of his life. They consist almost entirely of aphorisms, which rarely last longer than a few lines. As such this isn’t a cohesive reading experience as there’s no pattern or progression to it but it’s one which rewards being read in bite sized chunks and with the odd line here and there left to roll around your mind. It’s one to keep by your bedside or any other places you might read and contemplate rather than attempt to plough through in a sitting or two. It’s also strikingly modern in presentation, Lichtenberg’s admirable gift of concision being one more than two hundred years ahead of his time – he’d have been an absolute natural on Twitter. By turns witty, deep and sharply observed, this is a book to make the mind fizz. ( )
2 vote JonArnold | Apr 18, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Georg Christoph Lichtenbergprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hollingdale, R. J.Introduction/Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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This is the same book as LichtenbergAphorisms pub. by Penguin in 1990. ISBN 9780140448190
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