- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (October 9, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 158234616X
- ISBN-13: 978-1582346168
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 0.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 18 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,476,386 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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From Publishers Weekly
It's not a stretch to say Geary is obsessed with aphorisms. Ever since discovering the literary form in the "Quotable Quotes" section of Reader's Digest when he was a child, he has been compiling them. Given his level of passion, it's fitting that he has penned what is probably the definitive work on aphorisms, a love letter– cum–memoir disguised as a reference book. It also explains why he occasionally gets so carried away that he describes Nietzsche as "the Evil [sic] Knievel of nineteenth-century philosophy" and Frenchman Joseph Joubert as "the great apostle of the aphorism." But Geary, deputy editor of the European edition of Time magazine, is also a veteran newsman, and for the most part he tones down the hype. He provides a useful definition—an aphorism is brief, definitive, personal, philosophical and must have a twist—along with lively thumbnail sketches of some of the masters of the form, among them Ludwig Wittgenstein and Mark Twain, "who deliberately set out to overturn [Benjamin] Franklin's friendly, avuncular sayings with his own darker, more ornery aphorisms." Geary's enthusiasm may overwhelm as much as it enlightens, but fellow fanatics will be delighted. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
What a pleasant, personal, thoughtful little book--and on such an unlikely subject. "Aphorisms are the original oracles," Geary writes, dating back to a time when books were few and people who could read them fewer still. The culture of the world was oral--this was in the time of Lao-tzu, the possibly mythical Chinese scholar--and a wise saying was passed on, down the generational line, until it became, well . . . an aphorism, a small statement that reveals a larger truth. There are rules, the author tells us, for aphorisms, five of them, in fact. Keep it short, definitive (no waffling allowed), and personal. It should have a twist, some hidden meaning or surprise. And it must be philosophical in nature, forcing you to contemplate how universal truths are hidden in the particulars of daily life. Naturally, Geary's account is full of wonderful aphorisms ("the limits of my language mean the limits of my world"), and Geary introduces the reader to some of history's key aphorists, including Buddha, William Blake, and (of course) Benjamin Franklin. Delightful. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
The one-star ratings of a couple of other reviews are from fundamental Christians who apparently did not appreciate Geary's secular take on Jesus the aphorist. Geary's humanist bent does show in his approach. I would advise potential buyers of this book to take their complaint with a grain of sand. And, after all, it's only four pages out of a couple of hundred.
Any thinking person will find the book a delight.
2) I started to read it and found that I wanted to just skim it for the neat Aphorism's
3) After skimming I saved the book for the stories around the people that gave us the Aphorism.
4) I entered any Aphorism I thought was great in my Evernote account for quick reference
5) I placed this on my writing reference shelf
6) I will pull this book out again when I have a witty Aphorism and need the story behind it
7) Don't have high expectations - Think Reference