The gay science

Die fröhliche Wissenschaft

The Gay Science (German: Die fröhliche Wissenschaft) or The Joyful Wisdom is a book by Friedrich Nietzsche, first published in 1882 and followed by a second edition, which was published after the completion of Thus Spoke Zarathustra and Beyond Good and Evil, in 1887. This substantial expansion includes a fifth book and an appendix of songs. It was noted by Nietzsche to be “the most personal of all [his] books”, and contains the greatest number of poems in any of his published works. (Wikipedia)

Text from this book:

57 To the realists. – You sober people who feel armed against passion and phantastical conceptions and would like to make your emptiness a matter of pride and an ornament – you call yourself realists and insinuate that the world really is the way it appears to you: before you alone reality stands unveiled, and you yourselves are perhaps the best part of it – oh, you beloved images of Sais!1 But aren’t you too in your unveiled condition still most passionate and dark creatures, compared to fish, and still all too similar to an artist in love? And what is ‘reality’ to an artist in love! You still carry around the valuations of things that originate in the passions and loves of former centuries! Your sobriety still contains a secret and inextirpable drunkenness! Your love of ‘reality’, for example – oh, that is an old, ancient ‘love’! In every experience, in every sense impression there is a piece of this old love; and some fantasy, some prejudice, some irrationality, some ignorance, some fear, and whatever else, has worked on and contributed to it. That mountain over there! That cloud over there! What is ‘real’ about that? Subtract just once the phantasm and the whole human contribution from it, you sober ones! Yes, if you could do that! If you could forget your background, your past, your nursery school – all of your humanity and animality! There is no ‘reality’ for us – and not for you either, you sober ones – we are not nearly as strange to one another as you think, and perhaps our good will to transcend drunkenness is just as respectable as your belief that you are altogether incapable of drunkenness.


Synopsis

the gay science back cover

Nietzsche called The Gay Science “the most personal of all my books.” It was here that he first proclaimed the death of God—to which a large part of the book is devoted—and his doctrine of the eternal recurrence. Walter Kaufmann’s commentary, with its many quotations from previously untranslated letters, brings to life Nietzsche as a human being and illuminates his philosophy. The book contains some of Nietzsche’s most sustained discussions of art and morality, knowledge and truth, the intellectual conscience and the origin of logic. Most of the book was written just before Thus Spoke Zarathustra, the last part five years later, after Beyond Good and Evil. We encounter Zarathustra in these pages as well as many of Nietzsche’s most interesting philosophical ideas and the largest collection of his own poetry that he himself ever published. Walter Kaufmann’s English versions of Nietzsche represent one of the major translation enterprises of our time. He is the first philosopher to have translated Nietzsche’s major works, and never before has a single translator given us so much of Nietzsche.

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.

gay schienceNietzsche’s Gay Science is one of his most remarkable, important, and famous works. Moreover, it contains all of his main philosophical themes and is arguably indispensable for understanding Nietzsche’s philosophy. Langer’s Nietzsche’s Gay Science: Dancing Coherence is the first book that helps the reader grapple with the complexity of The Gay Science in its entirety. In a clear, engaging, and very accessible manner Langer provides a detailed, sequential reading of The Gay Science. She explains the interconnectedness of its seemingly unrelated sections and illuminates its difficulties. Throughout she provides critical commentary and detailed background information. A native German speaker, Langer also draws attention to various problems in Kaufmann’s translation of The Gay Science and provides translation corrections.

Although dour in appearance and formidable in reputation, Friedrich Nietzsche was an ardent practitioner of the art of poetry—called in twelfth-century Provencal “the gay science.” This volume, which Nietzsche referred to as “the most personal of all my books,” features the largest collection of his poetry that he ever chose to publish. It also offers an extensive and sophisticated treatment of the philosophical themes and views most central to his thinking, as well as the ideas that proved most influential to later philosophers. Dating from the era when Nietzsche was at the peak of his intellectual powers, most of this book was written just before Thus Spoke Zarathustra, and the rest of it five years later, after Beyond Good and Evil. Zarathustra makes his first appearance in these pages, along with the author’s well-known proclamation of the death of God—a concept to which much of the book is devoted—and his doctrine of the eternal recurrence. Readers will find this volume a wellspring for some of Nietzsche’s most sustained and thought-provoking discussions of art and morality, knowledge and truth, the intellectual conscience, and the origin of logic.

The Gay Science (German: Die fröhliche Wissenschaft) or The Joyful Wisdom is a book by Friedrich Nietzsche, first published in 1882 and followed by a second edition, which was published after the completion of Thus Spoke Zarathustra and Beyond Good and Evil, in 1887. This substantial expansion includes a fifth book and an appendix of songs. It was noted by Nietzsche to be “the most personal of all [his] books”, and contains the greatest number of poems in any of his published works.


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