From Scientific American
Odd title, unusual book. Lichtenberg (1742-1799) was a German polymath: astronomer, experimental physicist, mathematician and critic of art and literature. In his student days he began the lifelong practice of recording his thoughts, observations and reminders in notebooks that he called Sudelb¸cher after the "waste books" in which English business houses of the time entered transactions temporarily until they could be recorded in formal account books. By the end of his life he had accumulated 11 Sudelb¸cher, which he labeled as volumes A through L (skipping I). Hollingdale, a translator of Nietzsche, Goethe and Schopenhauer, has translated the notebooks. Here he presents excerpts, focusing on what he says are best called aphorisms. Lichtenberg turns out to be quite an aphorist, repeatedly surprising and entertaining the modern reader. Examples: "Whenever he was required to use his reason he felt like someone who had always used his right hand but was now required to do something with his left." "You can make a good living from soothsaying but not from truthsaying." "The book which most deserved to be banned would be a catalog of banned books." "Astronomy is perhaps the science whose discoveries owe least to chance, in which human understanding appears in its whole magnitude, and through which man can best learn how small he is."
EDITORS OF SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN
''Among the great achievements of the German spirit.'' -- Gordon Craig, author of The Germans
''One of the most compulsively readable books to come out of the 18th-century German Enlightenment.'' -- The Vancouver Sun