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The Gay Science by Friedrich Nietzsche

The Gay Science (1882)

by Friedrich Nietzsche

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2,450153,921 (4.28)11
Nietzsche wrote The Gay Science, which he later described as 'perhaps my most personal book', when he was at the height of his intellectual powers, and the reader will find in it an extensive and sophisticated treatment of the philosophical themes and views which were most central to Nietzsche's own thought and which have been most influential on later thinkers. These include the death of God, the problem of nihilism, the role of truth, falsity and the will-to-truth in human life, the doctrine of the eternal recurrence, and the question of the proper attitude to adopt toward human suffering and toward human achievement. This volume presents the work in a new translation by Josefine Nauckhoff, with an introduction by Bernard Williams that elucidates the work's main themes and discusses their continuing philosophical importance.… (more)

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English (13)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (15)
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For believe me! — the secret for harvesting from existence the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment is: to live dangerously! Build your cities on the slopes of Vesuvius! Send your ships into uncharted seas! Live at war with your peers and yourselves! Be robbers and conquerors as long as you cannot be rulers and possessors, you seekers of knowledge! Soon the age will be past when you could be content to live hidden in forests like shy deer!

While this wasn't my point of departure into Theory, though it should've been. Ideas bubbled and grew fecund in my youthful soul. Pints of Carlsburg and shit food from Hardees nourshed my wretched body, but it was Nietzsche's frisson which propelled me forward. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
This work is where most of Nietzsche's ideas begin. The poetry was unexpected, even though poetry is "the gay science". I routinely reflect on La Rochefoucauld's Maxims, and The Gay Science follows a similar structure. Based on my own reading, I also see elements of Voltaire's style. La Rochefoucauld's influence on Nietzsche has been acknowledged by numerous scholars, such as Brendan Donnellan, but also to Voltaire. Writing in the New Republic, Jacob Soll includes Nietzsche as an extension of Voltaire in terms of the critique of religion, which interestingly extends into a critique of socialism. (In the Marxian tradition, religion is the "opiate of the masses".) Borrowing from Mortimer Adler, my approach to reading Nietzsche is to read it myself, and later to look toward critiques of his work, so I am pleased that my connections between La Rochefoucauld and Voltaire do not stray from the mark. Nevertheless, my comparison was based purely on Voltaire's Dictionnaire philosophique and La Rochefoucauld's Maxims, rather than an in-depth study of either. In many ways, Nietzsche sets out the work as a dictionary of his ideas, not so much in the style of aphorisms, but certainly as a form of developing his own ideas in the style of a list of definitions, ideas, critiques, and polemics. Having said that, Nietzsche points out so many things that remain relevant today, including working for the sake of work, the "non-voluntariness in forming opinions" in academia, and even Rousseau's idea (apparently Nietzsche disliked Rousseau's work) of experience being "dearly bought and hardly worth the cost", nationalism, and the idea that science is not rational but merely a form of metaphysics where we attempt to measure things that are for the most part immeasurable, just to name a few. I also noticed echoes of Nietzsche in the work of Anton Chekhov and Albert Camus. But to return to Jacob Soll, who suggests that, in the US, the Enlightenment has been more or less abandoned, provides an interesting counter-point to what routinely appears in political debates in Australia. For example, the Enlightenment is often reified as the benchmark for all things good, yet, much like the US, there seems to be a disconnect with the great thinkers of the Enlightenment. (Soll, in effect, includes Nietzsche as an extension of the Enlightenment heavy-weights.) What this indicates to me is a weakness in my own understanding based on the glossed-over ideas of the Enlightenment that are too often taken-for-granted. I need to read much more and not just the philosophers, and Nietzsche points out Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer (that "pedantic Englishman") as worthy of further critique. Rather than suggesting we do what the social sciences try to do now by emulating the natural sciences, Nietzsche suggests we should, in effect, refer to the social sciences as "the unnatural sciences". Which brings me to an interesting observation. The Delphic Oracle's motto, "Know thyself" is based on the idea that knowledge (as Nietzsche suggests) is simply about attaching something we do not know to something we already know. So rather than seeking to understand, we seek to know. This subtle yet powerful difference seems to link to the Dionysian approach that Nietzsche develops in his later works. In many ways, it is also a critique of the natural sciences, especially Newton ("If I have seen further it is by standing on the sholders [sic] of giants"). In the current era, everything must be measured or it is not valued (and to quote Galileo, "Measure what is measurable, and make measurable what is not so" - see also the Canadian designer, Bruce Mau). Nietzsche provides one of the best critiques of these ideas, and in ways I would never have dreamt of in a lifetime of thinking. He also has his usual go at Aristotle, Socrates, the Stoics, yet seems to agree with Epicurus, and introduces Zarathustra, but I think I have only seen the tip of the iceberg. I intend to read Thus Spoke Zarathustra for my next Nietzsche reading, but I can only imagine how much I am missing as I have not the complete grasp (is it even possible?) of the many influences that Nietzsche draws on. It would seem logical that to read Nietzsche, one might begin at the beginning and work through in chronological order. Then again, I would have lost so much had I read this book early on, as many of Nietzsche's ideas remain largely undeveloped, at least in terms of how he converses with the reader. Interestingly, Nietzsche suggests that we only know something when we are able to discuss it. But this is simply the herd instinct monopolising our intellect. If we seek rather to understand than to "know", we may well not be able to communicate it at all. I think this is what Nietzsche captures best in this work, and I would hazard a guess that his poems pick up on this theme, and his epilogue (mirrored in the final poem) invites us to "dance". It doesn't matter if you do not understand the Minstrel, but the more you can hear the music and the melody, so much better can you... dance. I can dance! ( )
1 vote madepercy | Jun 10, 2018 |
Já leio Nietzsche a um tempo razoável, mas admito que ele ainda me surpreende. Muito já foi dito sobre este filósofo e tudo, mas da minha parte posso dizer que ele é o tipo de pensador que te ajuda a pensar mesmo que seja para contra-argumentar, e que, portanto, lê-lo nunca é uma leitura desperdiçada. Ainda: leia-o como quem quer conhecer, curioso, de mente aberta; ele escreve muito bem, e só por isso ele merece a fama que tem. Se algumas passagens parecerem difíceis, pule, o livro é rico em notas de tradução, mas algumas referências só mesmo um especialista poderia decifrar. É deste livro a famosa frase, "Deus está morto". Recomendo muito a leitura, até mesmo por que Nietzsche é traído pela forma aforística de sua escrita, que, para quem não quer um livro inteiro ou uma sequência de aforismo, é um prato cheio; muitas da má interpretações de Nietzsche está no fato de que ninguém lê nem mesmo o aforismo citado em sua inteireza. Esse aforismo sobre a morte de Deus, por exemplo ( aforismo 108) é contextualizado na crítica que Nietzsche faz á toda religião, incluindo o budismo, pois a ciência revolucionou o conhecimento humano.
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  WalkerDeBarros | Apr 29, 2018 |
This seems to be a zenith in Nietzsche's moral writings. Nietzsche is a confident writer in The Gay Science, and is more direct in his moral opinions. However, I will always hold over Nietzsche his lack of proper writings skills. One must piece together Nietzsche's philosophical creativity from his bothersome opinions. ( )
  MarchingBandMan | Nov 6, 2017 |
This work remains one of the essential works of Nietzsche perhaps the fourth most important work he wrote.
  gmicksmith | Sep 12, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (46 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Nietzsche, Friedrichprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Figal, GünterAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
González Blanco, PedroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hawinkels, PéTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
Wagt's mit meiner Kost, ihr Esser!
(Take a chance and try my fare)
God is dead.
Morality is herd instinct in the individual.
The Christian resolution to find the world ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad.
To find everything profound - that is an inconvenient trait. It makes one strain one's eyes all the time, and in the end one finds more than one might have wished.
We are always in our own company.
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Nell’agosto del 1881, in Engadina, «6000 piedi al di là dell’uomo e del tempo», Nietzsche ebbe la folgorazione dell’«eterno ritorno», il vero mistero filosofico della sua vita. Ed è di questo periodo l’elaborazione della Gaia scienza, libro che «rivela da cento segni la prossimità di qualcosa di incomparabile». Qui lo stile di Nietzsche sembra raggiungere la sua perfezione: all’implacabile spirito indagatore, a cui già si dovevano Umano, troppo umano e Aurora, si associa ora quello spirito della danza che attendeva di presentarsi nella figura di Zarathustra. Così la scienza diventa «gaia», e già nel titolo si offre il richiamo a «quella unità di ‘cantore’, ‘cavaliere’ e ‘spirito libero’ che differenzia quella meravigliosa e precoce civiltà dei Provenzali da tutte le civiltà equivoche». E insieme ora si afferma definitivamente in Nietzsche quella «riabilitazione dell’apparenza» che segnerà l’ultima fase del suo pensiero.
Tutte le tensioni laceranti che sfoceranno nella follia sono già presenti in queste pagine, ma ancora sovranamente dominate. Sicché per un lettore che voglia avvicinarsi all’opera di Nietzsche, forse questo è il libro più consigliabile: muovendosi fra le sue pagine ripercorrerà quel labirinto che Nietzsche è stato.
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