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The Art of Worldly Wisdom Hardcover – December 1, 1991

92 customer reviews

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The Art of Worldly Wisdom + The Pocket Oracle and Art of Prudence (Penguin Classics) + A Pocket Mirror for Heroes
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Maurer retranslates a 17th-century Jesuit's aphorisms and reflections on the morality of success. This long-admired work sounds surprisingly relevant today. It also combines brevity and grace of expression with wise advice, which should appeal to those seeking "how-to" spirituality which is universal, practical, and applicable in business. Recommended for public libraries.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Spanish

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1 edition (January 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385421311
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385421317
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,006 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

79 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Marcos on September 19, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Gracian had a splendid understanding of human nature. This book is just phenomenal, and it is not intended to be read and left on the shelf, it must be digested little by little, like the Book of Proverbs.
His insights have been copied and rewritten all the time, because they are universal in nature. It is interesting to notice that even though Gracian gives counsel on how to deal with people and even enemies, the BIG difference we see in him when compared with other authors like Machiavelli (whom Gracian detested) is his love for virtues like courage, generosity and kindness.
Gracian writes in order to make people become better human beings, not to give advice on how to win a war or have success in business, with a finesse that unfortunately is not found easily any more in our brute and materialistic world of today.
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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 25, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I received this book as a gift in 1992, I had no idea what I had been given..The Art Of Wordly Wisdom, is "THE" guide to Human Nature, a Handbook on Life, It is a brilliant how it describes human nature/behavior in all scopes of life's pursuits and how to handle any situation, not based on incident but based on human reaction and interaction to the incident...The writings are ageless, the book should be in everyone's library and read often..It is not a one read book, but one you can take out when dealing with whatever life may throw at you...I have used it and I have never found anything better on human nature and it always find a way of getting you out of the worst and even the best of situations. It is not religious, not new age teachings,not cult, it is common sense,you could say psychology by examples of life and people....
Nietzche and Shopenhauer were fans of Gracian, but none ever reached his clarity and accessibility..THE translation by Christopher Maurer is the ONLY ONE worth reading, for he is as clear as Gracian...Don't bother with the rest...
Baltasar Gracian is a man still ahead of his time...
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful By cvairag VINE VOICE on September 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Gracian's "Oracle" as it has been known through the past four centuries has its admirers and detractors, but none may honestly deny its charisma, and, as far as we can tell, eternal, relevance. Gracian himself was an apostate Jesuit, in fact, an early associate of Loyola, i.e., a disenfranchised charter member. One gets the feeling that Gracian was simply too much for his fellows - his insight into their 'sins' too penetrating even for the putatively penitent.
In the deepest Augustinian sense - where 'sin' is that which brings us misery - Gracian turns his great insight - that sin is folly & folly is sin - to its most beneficial application in his economic, witty, utile, most often profound guide to prudentia (practical wisdom), that venerable, yet too often elusive, lynchpin of virtue... and success.
As Maurer tells us in his informative introduction to what is in my opinion - the definitive English translation (I can vouch only for its impact)- that Gracian learned from his former illustrious associate Aphorism 251: "Use human means as though divine ones didn't exist, and divine means as though there were no human ones". I claim that Gracian uses both - to the most efficacious extent in this slender, but ever deeper masterpiece.
To the aphorisms, themselves!
I can't list all my favorites. I'd end up hand-copying almost the entire work, and it would take a lifetime to begin sorting out what might be best. Besides, I'd rather spend my time attempting to apply the wisdom found here, though I can but hope to master the bulk of it, try as I might. More hopefully, bits and pieces of a few will encourage you to pick up a book we might all do well to read more in.

"The art of moving people's wills involves more skill than determination.
Read more ›
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By wiredweird HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on May 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If Gracián describes your life, then you are living very, very well.

These few hundred brief, oblique, and aphoristic guidelines come down from the 17th century, but are as fresh and true as today's "talk" with your boss. They describe honor, skill, honesty, and trust. They describe the times when each must be pressed, and when each must be left behind. Gracián states again and again how each moment nurtures some effort or other, and how each kind of effort must await its moment. He also prescribes a peaceful mind, most times. That means letting go of matters that do not matter, for your own sake, for mercy towards those around you who may suffer brief lapses, and for your reputation as a person of judegement.

I fault Gracián for exactly one lack: continuous and clear-eyed self criticism. The essence of all art and all science, in terms of daily practice, is the ability to look at one's own work, and to see clearly what parts succeed and what parts fail. Somehow, Gracián missed the bravery required to tear down your own work when it needs to be torn down, in order to build up something more worthy in its place. I also question Gracián's central emphasis on luck, on the benificent forces of the stars. I have seen luck, good and bad, and have always seen that it is a thing a person creates for him/herself. In my own life, I acknowledge random effects for good or bad, but I see little or no "luck."

Gracián's essential message describes a person of honor, determination, insight, and adaptability. This person, in the end, can only succeed. This is a book to read, to re-read, and to re-read again. Mark it up, add your thoughts - it can only become more true.

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