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The Gay Science: With a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs Mass Market Paperback – January 12, 1974


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The Gay Science: With a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs + The Portable Nietzsche (Portable Library) + Basic Writings of Nietzsche (Modern Library Classics)
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 396 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1 edition (January 12, 1974)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394719859
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394719856
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"[This book] mirrors all of Nietzsche's thought and could be related in hundreds of ways to his other books, his notes, and his letters. And yet it is complete in itself. For it is a work of art."

-- Walter Kaufmann in the Introduction

Language Notes

Text: English, German (translation)

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Customer Reviews

This book is one of Nietzsche's most poetic and beautiful.
Brian York
Nietzsche himself states in Beyond Good and Evil, should you care to look, that this is only HIS perspective on truth.
Amazon Customer
This may be the first book I am reading 'from cover to cover' on a Kindle, and the experience is rewarding.
B. Marold

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 51 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 21, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Nietzsche's The Gay Science proposes an antidote to the condition of contemporary scholarship. As opposed to what he saw as contemporary scholars' ant-like drudgery in amassing facts, he recommends "the gay science," a kind of scholarship that would be lighthearted and deliberately "superficial--out of profundity" as he claims that the Greeks were. Aware of the murkier aspects of human existence, the ancient Athenians responded by taking aesthetic delight in life and becoming "adorers of forms, tones, of words." In his own era, in which many felt incapable of transforming reality, Nietzsche proposed that this would be the appropriate convalescence for scholars, as it had been for him in his own personal life.
In The Gay Science, the infamous statement "God is dead" appears for the first time. The most important mention of this belief comes in the section called "The Madman." The madman in this section appears in the marketplace and makes the announcement "God is dead" to the scientific atheists who have gathered there. After the atheists merely laugh at him, the madman realizes that he has come too early, and he goes around to different towns singing funeral hymns during masses.
This parable suggests the inappropriateness of the popular characterization of Nietzsche as the hardened atheist who delights in nothing more than debunking other people's beliefs. Nevertheless, the perspective that Nietzsche proposes throughout The Gay Science is naturalistic and aesthetic, in opposition to traditional religious views. Indeed, many of the work's sections might be considered practical advice for the spiritually sensitive atheist who is concerned lest he or she return to old religious habits out of desperation.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By William Adams on September 6, 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I love Amazon, but you have to be careful about the way very different versions of a book sometimes wind up on the same sales page with their reader reviews mixed together. At the time I am writing, the page for the Walter Kaufmann translation of the Gay Science lists a Kindle edition for 99 cents, but that edition is not the Kaufmann. It is a new version of Thomas Common's poor translation from a hundred years ago; without its slight re-editing, this public domain version is available free elsewhere. Although I do see one contrary opinion in the reviews, the vast majority of readers greatly prefer the Kaufmann translation, and until that is made available for Kindle, I would suggest one of the inexpensive used copies of the paperback, which you can also get on this page. _That_ is a five star book.
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33 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Earl Dennis on October 29, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It's hard to give a cursory review of a book of aphorisms. This edition of 'The Gay Science' however comes with observations by the superlative Nietzschian commentator, Walter Kaufmann, who says that "this book is a microcosm in which we find almost all of Nietzsche: epigrams and songs, aphorisms and...philosophical problems, ethics and theory of knowledge, reflections on art and on the death of God, the eternal recurrence and even Zarathustra." This is about as good a review of 'The Gay Science' as any.
I must say that of the 4 other Nietzschian works I have read (BG&E, Geneology of Morals, BOT, and Antichrist) this is the best, most complete, and most enjoyable so far. This book showcases Nietzsche for what is probably his most noticable strength: his ability as a psychologist and sociologist. He seems to have a good understanding of the types of innate moves people possess and utilize in their respective environments. Probably his understanding of exatcly what that environment is, namely, his sense of objective reality, is what allows him to comment so precisely on human nature. True, he's an indefensibly offensive misogynist and war monger, and that notwhithstanding, many of his observations are still germane in this day and age, which suggests an accute sense of psychology and anthropology on his part; although naturally a bit dated. Of course, I believe that in modern America we tend to discount the utter sagacity of 19th century Europeans in their pragmatism. Perhaps Nietzsche just seems sagacious compared to the discourse of present day America. His comments on hegemony, or how the ruling class manipulates the masses into cooperation are great. Nietzsche's love of science and his comments on the silliness of self-proclaimed objective types is excellent too.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 23, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Kaufmann has done another excellent job with his translation of Nietzsche's most complete collection of thoughts. It is here that the famous adage "God is Dead" is first decreed. The Gay Science is a beautiful work of literature, and at the same time, a sort of summation of many of Nietzsche's previous and later books. The Gay Science is a must for anyone interested in Nietzsche's philosophy. And no one translates Nietzsche (or any other German philosopher) better than Walter Kaufmann.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jim McKenna on September 6, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book contains the famous description of the madman announcing the Death of God. Obviously Nietzsche sees himself as the madman, sacrificing himself to bring humanity the awful news. What's odd is that Nietzsche was certainly not the first person to proclaim God's death; in fact, as he himself notes elsewhere, many educated people had already become either agnostic or atheistic. None of them, however, found this as earthshaking as Nietzsche. The reason, I think, is that he had an essentially religious nature. The word "spiritual" recurs throught the book. In one remarkable passage he even chastises St. Augustine for being insufficiently spiritual.
The Gay Science is a pivitol book for Nietzsche because it is the first in which the tension between the spiritual seeker and the atheist becomes manifest. Gone is the skeptical pose of "Human All Too Human"; instead we have the anguish of a man torn between two conflicting ideals. The tension, while it ravaged Nietzsche, did produce some brilliant ideas and unforgettable prose, even if it did not ultimately lead to a liveable philosophy.
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