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Book Title: The Art of Worldly Wisdom|
The author of the book: Baltasar Gracián
City - Country: No data
Loaded: 2853 times
Reader ratings: 7.4
Edition: Crown Business
Date of issue: December 1st 1991
ISBN 13: 9780385421317
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 7.41 MB
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This book wasn't quite what I expected, yet it was still a good experience. If you have - or will - read Machiavelli's "The Prince", Sun Tzu's "The Art Of War" and/or Castiglione's "The Book Of The Courtier", this is another good book to this type of books. There's is also some certainty that the author read "The Prince" (since it came out earlier than this book, which came out in 1647); the fact that the author of this present book was a Jesuit no doubt helped, since I do know Jesuits have been thought of as cunning, both in positive and negative sense.
So: this book is a series of 300 witty, thought-proviking aphorisms (which are nicely shown in the contents list), with some helpful notes at the end - you can't expect everyone to be familiar with Greek/Roman classic texts (including Aesop's tales) and the Bible. The name hints at the size of the first printing of this books - pocket-fitting and densely printed (sometimes hard to read because of this). It is for the 17th Century Baroque Spanish upper society, Spain being then in decline, away from being the world power, with France and Rococo soon taking their place.
Some of the text clearly shows that certain aphorisms can be grouped together, and some themes do pop up again as one keeps reading. The style is laconic, which I like since it keeps the message clearly floating. Translation keeps out most world-play and puns, since they don't translate well.
The author stresses the importance of taking ever-changing circumstances into account, as aphrosim's tips may not apply on every occasion. In everything, though, prudence is the main key that keep one afloat in the changes and risks of the society. There is more value in difficulty than easy - there is challenge this way. Disillusion is sometimes good, it helps in looking behind appearances, where danger and opportunities may hide. One has to realise that others are playing the game, too.
There were a few standout aphorisms for me: 1o1, 110, 183, 249, 273, 297 really felt close to me. Sometimes making me think of the state of the world now, how to know when to fold 'em, not to hold to opinions too stubbornly, remember to already live and not leave living to old age, and the "act as though always on view" sounds interesting.
The last aphorism gives the whole lot a nice twist; it might make you read the text again, which may not be hard work since the book is quite slim :) The book is quite easy to read, even if you don't really notice that Christianity still sort of flows underground in the text, most of the time... it might feel like the book's general message veers very close to Machiavelli, yet in the end staying slight apart.
A suprisingly good book, with something for everyone, even when not living like they once did.
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Read information about the authorBaltasar Gracián y Morales, SJ (8 January 1601 – 6 December 1658), formerly Anglicized as Baltazar Gracian, was a Spanish Jesuit and baroque prose writer and philosopher. He was born in Belmonte, near Calatayud (Aragón). His proto-existentialist writings were lauded by Nietzsche and Schopenhauer.
The son of a doctor, in his childhood Gracián lived with his uncle, who was a priest. He studied at a Jesuit school in 1621 and 1623 and theology in Zaragoza. He was ordained in 1627 and took his final vows in 1635.
He assumed the vows of the Jesuits in 1633 and dedicated himself to teaching in various Jesuit schools. He spent time in Huesca, where he befriended the local scholar Vincencio Juan de Lastanosa, who helped him achieve an important milestone in his intellectual upbringing. He acquired fame as a preacher, although some of his oratorical displays, such as reading a letter sent from Hell from the pulpit, were frowned upon by his superiors. He was named Rector of the Jesuit college of Tarragona and wrote works proposing models for courtly conduct such as El héroe (The Hero), El político (The Politician), and El discreto (The Discreet One). During the Spanish war with Catalonia and France, he was chaplain of the army that liberated Lleida in 1646.
In 1651, he published the first part of the Criticón (Faultfinder) without the permission of his superiors, whom he disobeyed repeatedly. This attracted the Society's displeasure. Ignoring the reprimands, he published the second part of Criticón in 1657, as a result was sanctioned and exiled to Graus at the beginning of 1658. Soon Gracián wrote to apply for membership in another religious order. His demand was not met, but his sanction was eased off: in April of 1658 he was sent to several minor positions under the College of Tarazona. His physical decline prevented him from attending the provincial congregation of Calatayud and on 6 December 1658 Gracián died in Tarazona, near Zaragoza in the Kingdom of Aragón.
Gracián is the most representative writer of the Spanish Baroque literary style known as Conceptismo (Conceptism), of which he was the most important theoretician; his Agudeza y arte de ingenio (Wit and the Art of Inventiveness) is at once a poetic, a rhetoric and an anthology of the conceptist style.
The Aragonese village where he was born (Belmonte de Calatayud), changed its name to Belmonte de Gracian in his honour.
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