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The Art of Worldly Wisdom (Shambhala Pocket Classics) [Paperback]

Balthasar Gracian , Joseph Jacobs , Joseph Jacobs
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Paperback, 1 Jun 1993 --  
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Book Description

1 Jun 1993 Shambhala Pocket Classics
This best-selling book of advice on how to achieve personal and professional success is valued for its timeless insights on how to make one's way in the world. Written in the seventeenth century by a Spanish Jesuit, these teachings are strikingly modern in tone, putting strategy above ethics while reminding the reader that the true search for excellence begins with perfecting oneself.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications Inc; New edition edition (1 Jun 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0877739218
  • ISBN-13: 978-0877739210
  • Product Dimensions: 11.9 x 7.7 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 662,016 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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From the Publisher

An original and authoritative translation of one of Spain's greatest thinkers. Produced in a sturdy quarter binding this book is very good value for money. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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EVERYTHING IS AT ITS PEAK OF PERFECTION. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
.
A very small book of three-hundred maxims, covering practically all of the wisdom one needs to go through life. Each maxim covering less than a page, often only half or a quarter.
Originally written in Spanish in 1637 by a Jesuit scholar, it has been translated into eight European languages. Among the best of which is the one by another scholar and literary critic named Joseph Jacobs, who also collected folklores (including English and Celtic fairy tales, as well as the fables of Aesop); this, too, is a good one, albeit not preserving as much of Gracian's epigrammatic style, including his word plays and puns.
In contrast to Machiavelli, who put CRUDE REALITY into words, Gracian is more on the side of a little IDEALISM and NOBILITY in
living one's life. Which is not to say he aims for ASPHYXIA; much is given to living a happy life, part of which is giving oneself a break and a breather.
[NEGATIVE] A few maxims are of limited use for its obviousness--in essence, "sometimes go left, sometimes go right". (Uhm, aren't those ALL of the very choices from which one must pick? And doesn't EVERYBODY ALREADY know that.) The wisdom of everything else in the book in nonetheless undiminished.
The brevity (not concise; some maxims are translated rather long-windedly) of the maxims does not mean that they are to be read as many in one stretch. After all, the benefits only start when wisdom is absorbed and lived out. Best to read through a dozen at most at a time; re-read and re-read, giving each time to sink into the heart and mind; only then move onto the next dozen or two.
Quite ENLIGHTENING. Worth keeping one copy of. Or perhaps two--a hardcover edition, too, in one's library, work desk, coffee table or reception room . . . for anyone who might walk in or anyone being made to wait, and who could use the time literally wisely.
.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Good Book, Bad Version 5 Jan 2008
Format:Paperback
Get the more expensive 1904 version, it's far better, and readily available on Amazon.

This version makes the preposterous claim of being an "updated" version.

An American has more or less gone through the original English translation, pedantically removing all the "u"s from words like: honour, valour, behaviour, etc..., and left the syntax in archaic Yoda style to give the impression of "wise-alidy" (as an American might say).

That is it! That's all they've done, and they call that "updating"!

An American can read the word "honour" and know what it means (and all the other words); so to purposefully go through the book simply converting a few of the words to illiterate Americanese is even more appallingly pedantic than complaining about it.

More to the point, there's no analysis of the content.
If this book had genuinely been updated into modern language, and the author had understood the subtle differences in meaning between words as used in the 17th century and the 21st century, like "advantage" for example, you might get a far clearer understanding of what the original writer, Gracian, actually meant.
Readers might also spot the repetitiousness of some of the maxims - many of them could probably be comfortably conflated.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a brilliant little book of 300 lessons 17 Feb 1998
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The Art of Worldly Wisdom is one of my favorite books. It was written in the 1600s and contains 300 maxims in paragraph form. All you have to do is to open the book to the back where you will find a listing of the maxims. For instance, #192 is "A peaceful life is a long life." and #148 is "Have the art of conversation." Then turn to the appropriate page for your lesson in full. It's a tiny book that will amaze you with the amount of brilliance it contains. It's a book that will fit in your pocket and help you through life. I hope you'll love it as much I do.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
.
A very small book of three-hundred maxims, covering practically all of the wisdom one needs to go through life. Each maxim covering less than a page, often only half or a quarter.
Originally written in Spanish in 1637 by a Jesuit scholar, it has been translated into eight European languages. Among the best of which is the one by another scholar and literary critic named Joseph Jacobs, who also collected folklores (including English and Celtic fairy tales, as well as the fables of Aesop); this, too, is a good one, albeit not preserving as much of Gracian's epigrammatic style, including his word plays and puns.
In contrast to Machiavelli, who put CRUDE REALITY into words, Gracian is more on the side of a little IDEALISM and NOBILITY in
living one's life. Which is not to say he aims for ASPHYXIA; much is given to living a happy life, part of which is giving oneself a break and a breather.
[NEGATIVE] A few maxims are of limited use for its obviousness--in essence, "sometimes go left, sometimes go right". (Uhm, aren't those ALL of the very choices from which one must pick? And doesn't EVERYBODY ALREADY know that.) The wisdom of everything else in the book in nonetheless undiminished.
The brevity (not concise; some maxims are translated rather long-windedly) of the maxims does not mean that they are to be read as many in one stretch. After all, the benefits only start when wisdom is absorbed and lived out. Best to read through a dozen at most at a time; re-read and re-read, giving each time to sink into the heart and mind; only then move onto the next dozen or two.
Quite ENLIGHTENING. Worth keeping one copy of. Or perhaps two--a hardcover edition, too, in one's library, work desk, coffee table or reception room . . . for anyone who might walk in or anyone being made to wait, and who could use the time literally wisely.
.
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