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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amor Fati
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...
Published on September 21, 2000

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Beware non-Kaufmann Kindle version
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...
Published 10 months ago by William Adams


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46 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amor Fati, September 21, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Gay Science: With a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs (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. Nietzsche proposes as an alternative to religious views that seek life's meaning in an afterlife, an immanent appreciation of this life in aesthetic terms. Ideal, he suggests, is the experience of amor fati (love of fate), in which one loves one's life, with all its flaws, just for what it is.
Nietzsche's most complex and controversial image for the satisfaction that one would ideally take in one's earthly life is his doctrine of eternal recurrence. The concept of eternal recurrence seems to suggest that time is cyclical, with the entire sequence of all events recurring over and over again. In Nietzsche's published works, this concept is first suggested in Book Four of The Gay Science entitled "The Greatest Stress."
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Beware non-Kaufmann Kindle version, September 6, 2013
By 
William Adams (Ashland, Oregon USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Gay Science: With a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs (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
5.0 out of 5 stars A Pretty Serious Gay Science, October 29, 2002
By 
Earl Dennis (San Francisco, California United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Gay Science: With a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs (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. The opening aphorism of Book Two, entited "To the Realists-" is a clarion mockery to those so enamoured with logic that they deny, zombie-like, their own humanity and necessary (if not intentional) delusion.
Previously I was confused by Nietzsche's style. After hearing some lectures by professor Bob Solomon I came to understand how utterly ironic Nietzsche is trying to be in his writing from the outset. The title of this book, the 'Gay' science is trying to tell us that. Only by not taking Nietzsche seriously, by understanding his intentional irony and sarcasm, can one begin to hear him seriously. For all this book's sturm und drang it is frivolous and insignificant; and what of life isn't? so be gay and carefree my friends (while keeping watch with a jaundiced eye)! hence the nascent, cheerful, crushing existentialism of Nietzsche. Life is a tale told by an idiot signifying nothing, so let's go have a beer and catch some of the performance art of the wise, having ourselves a good laugh over their wardrobes and posturing. In this context, in his clever craftiness and irony, Nietzsche's message congeals to reveal the mind of, if not a mentally deranged person (who of us isn't after all), then a mind twisted into a sage of sorts who, motivated and feuled by an almost divine derangement, serves as a valuable alterego sibling. Nietzsche burns the midnight oil as a sibyl for our collective subconscious. This is the best work by Nietzsche I have read yet.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gay Science, August 23, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Gay Science: With a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs (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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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Spiritual Atheist, September 6, 2000
This review is from: The Gay Science: With a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs (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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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the pinacle of translations, July 9, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Gay Science: With a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs (Mass Market Paperback)
for all of those who cannot enjoy nietzsche, on of the 4, 5 greatest masters of the german language (with goethe, heine, kafka, possibly schiller), in his native tounge, walter kaufman is _the_ translation to read, everything else is not doing nietzsche justice. in la gaya scienca, the book that at least _i_ think is his most accessible for he offers light and heavy doses of his thought and humor in small portions, he rises to be one of the only and truly great german poets, e.g. with 'to the mistral'. aphorisms and poems especially are nowhere to be found in accurate translation - this book is the only notable exception. whereas other translators translate with what they think nietzsche's intent was in their mind, kaufman sticks to what nietzsche _actually_ writes, hence giving a much less distorted view than any other work. i cannot reccommend this book enough - and if i say that about every book of nietzsche, here i mean it yet even more. this i s i t !
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20 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars possibly the best of Nietzsche's later works, February 15, 2001
This review is from: The Gay Science: With a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs (Mass Market Paperback)
This is my favorite work of Nietzsche's. This book, among other things, contains two key announcements that will shape Nietzsche's next work, "Thus Spoke Zarathustra." The first pronouncement is the death of god. Simply put, the god has become unbelievable--that is, belief in god has become too "everyday", it no longer has the vitality that a great myth needs (and remember, Nietzsche thinks that we need myths to survive). This first announcement leads to the second, that of the eternal return. Between these two critical passages, we encounter "the madman", who can be interpreted as depicting the nihilism, or the general weightlessness, created upon the death of god. The people need a new myth, Nietzsche thinks. Thus, he presents the eternal return, the claim that everything happes the same, over and over-- the "heaviest weight". It is important to note that Nietzsche never gives any explanation or support for explaining the reality of the eternal return, in fact, he introduces it by way of an imaginary demon. Ironically, as Nietzsche was so critical of previous philosophers as merely being "expressions of personal prejudices", his treatment of the eternal return, namely, his claim that it is, at first, the most terrifying thought (and also the source of the greatest joy later in Zarathustra), is probably just the expression of his own poor health, etc. Sorry, Nietzsche, but for people living comfortable lives (and not just naive followers of dogma or unarticulated hedonists), the eternal return really isn't a "heavy thought" at all--especially since it is just a thought. Regardless, in addition to these primary declarations, "The Gay Science" is full of some of Nietsche's most interesting arguments on morality and truth, although in a less organized form than "Beyond Good and Evil."
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, January 4, 2008
By 
Steiner (Philadelphia) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Gay Science: With a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs (Mass Market Paperback)
Nietzsche's Die Froliche Wissenschaft may be a great and brilliant book precisely because it is impossible to say exactly what it is about. On the one hand, we are given the Nietzsche who repudiates the assumptions of Christian morality and German Nationalism, as well as the familiar Nietzsche who rejects dogmatism and rationalism, but we are also given an unusual Nietzsche who discusses the tremendous potential of the theoretical and physical sciences. There are also profound discussions on women in the Gay Science which break with his otherwise overt misogyny. Additionally, Nietzsche provides very lucid repudiations of all forms of nihilism (aphorisms which are often overlooked by contemporary commentators who wish to write Nietzsche off as a nihilistic thinker). Nietzsche also introduces a number of his most important philosophical ideas in the Gay Science, namely the notion of ressentiment, slave and master morality, 'God is Dead,' and the eternal recurrence of the same. This is a hugely important opus in the history of modernity, and it is an immensely pleasurable and satisfying read.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Know thyself! Then frolic., October 17, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Gay Science: With a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs (Mass Market Paperback)
The Gay Science is a wonderful celebration of life. One can not make categorial statements on Nietzsche, but that he wanted his readers to accept the indifference of nature, and not pity themselves with, "Why me?" questions. After all God is dead, therefore, why even bother yourself with asking why me? If there is one Carpe Diem philosopher it is Nietzsche! "One must have liberated oneself from many things that oppress, inhibit, hold down, and make heavy precisely us Europeans [modernity in general] today." Nietzsche takes his readers into cataclysmic conversations (aphorisms), trying to undo the manacles of our spirit. Do yourself a favor and pick up this book, instead of remaining curious about the "madman with a frizzy mustache". Keep and open mind, then curse and thank Nietzsche all you want and move on with your own standards of life.
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15 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mature Philsophy of Nietzsch Takes Its Shape, February 24, 2001
This review is from: The Gay Science: With a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs (Mass Market Paperback)
Most of the concepts of Nietzsche's mature philosophy can be found in this book. Nevertheless, the book is not overly serious or dull, Nietzsche is trying to be ticklish and light-hearted, hence the title "The Gay Science." As with most of his other works, N. succeeds in being psychologically insightful, but also has some of the ideas that do not resonate well with modern readers. For example, he philosophizes about "health" and implies that his contemporaries are not healthy enough for Plato's insights and philosophical courage. At one point, he also implies that physics explains everything, and therefore, "long live physcis!" But he himself has never tried his hand in it, nor is it obvious that physics does in fact explain everything.
In this book, Nietzsche is not yet as shrill as he would become in his last four works, written in 1888. He seeks joyful wisdom and can give plesure to his readers and insights for the curious mind.
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The Gay Science: With a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs
The Gay Science: With a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs by Friedrich Nietzsche (Mass Market Paperback - January 12, 1974)
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