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  1. Suggested Reading
  2. The Art of Worldly Wisdom by Balthasar Gracian. Search eText, Read Online, Study, Discuss.
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  4. 35 Pieces of Life Changing Wisdom that Will Make You More Powerful and Successful

Considering that it is still amazing relevant today despite being first published in , it is a classic masterpiece. Certainly there have been other books in the same genre, but I have yet to find another one as penetrating and objective. Also, The Art of Worldly Wisdom contains only aphorisms, considerably less than the Maxims while packing the same amount of substance or more. Other notable thinkers have been influenced by The Art of Worldly Wisdom. I wish that I had many years ago.

Perhaps I could have done things better, or perhaps I could have learned some lessons less painfully. In either case, it could only have helped! This little book is one of the most read and translated works of the Spanish Golden Age. It has been surprisingly influential. Schopenhauer was a famous devotee, and even learned Spanish so that he could produce a translation which went on to commercial success. Two English translations have been best-sellers, the first in and the second in Yet for the reader of the original Spanish—especially the non-native reader—the book can be perplexing.

Admittedly, however, the bulk of this advice is directed towards the successful courtier, and so is difficult to apply to less exalted positions.


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There is, for example, much advice concerned with how to treat inferiors and superiors, but in a world where explicit hierarchies are increasingly frowned upon or at least tactfully concealed , the poor reader wonders what to make of it. But much of the advice is timeless and universal. Make friends with those you can learn from but not those who can outshine you! Never lose your self-respect. The wise man gains more from his enemies than the fool from his friends. Know how to forget. Know how to ask. Look within As any reader of Don Quixote knows, Spanish is a language exceedingly rich in proverbs; so it perhaps should come as no surprise that this language—so rhythmic and so easy to make rhymes with—is also an excellent vehicle for maxims.

Despite all the wit and wisdom to be found in these pages, however, I found myself wishing for amplification. Montaigne, though short on practical advice, is long on examples; so by the end of his essays the reader has a good idea how to put his ideas into practice.

Needless to say I will not become a successful courtier anytime soon. View all 8 comments. I have friends who read The Prince like a bible, and its true that Machiavelli is worthy of repeated study, both as a period piece and window into the Renaissance Italian soul, and as possibly the most notorious treatise on Realpolitik ever written.

Machiavelli, like Nietzsche, has been misused by the unscrupulous and decried by the ignorant; also, IMHO, both writers were actually better historians and analysts than they were philosophers per se. Baltasar Gracian, in the Pocket Oracle, has accomp I have friends who read The Prince like a bible, and its true that Machiavelli is worthy of repeated study, both as a period piece and window into the Renaissance Italian soul, and as possibly the most notorious treatise on Realpolitik ever written.

Baltasar Gracian, in the Pocket Oracle, has accomplished what Niccolo never could, nor would have wanted to: a day to day primer of sage advice from a trained Jesuit mind who walked and worked in the highest halls of power in his time. The lessons are pithy and epigrammatic, both simple yet deserving of deep reflection and consideration and, most importantly, are eminently USEFUL in almost every interpersonal interaction in your day to day life, whether you are a dish washer or a senator -- his teachings are that universal.

Robert Greene strip-mined Gracian for 48 Laws of Power, but again IMHO, it's always best to refer back to the seminal source even after being presented with as good a digest as Greene presented. This is the Penguin edition, so you of course have the value added of their wonderful introductions, with historical references anchoring Gracian's life and the impact of the Oracle itself.

Also, this translation is, I feel, much better than those I've seen marketed under the variant title Art of Worldly Wisdom. I read this book everyday. I recommend it to every man woman or child that wants to live their very best. Gracian was one of the wisest men who ever lived, and this is the free distillation of his wisdom. View 2 comments.

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Jul 23, Sarah Ansani rated it it was ok Shelves: library , non-fiction , self-help , philosophy , health-and-wellness. I'm a little surprised by some ratings of this book. I understand that this isn't a book that you exactly "critique" because it's a renown oracle from the 17th century. A lot of the advice gears toward deception, vanity, and greed: "Let someone else take the hit.

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The Art of Worldly Wisdom by Balthasar Gracian. Search eText, Read Online, Study, Discuss.

You will shield yourself fro I'm a little surprised by some ratings of this book. You will shield yourself from malevolence: sound policy in those who govern. Having someone else take the blame for failure and be the butt of gossip does not spring from a lack of ability, as malice thinks, but from superior skill.

How to Live #22: The Art of Worldly Wisdom #22

Not everything can turn out well, and you can't please everyone. So look for a scapegoat, someone whose own ambition will make him a good target. And a wise person understands that mistakes are made and that they, themselves, are not perfect. I'd rather be wary of a person who would put blame on me rather than be the blamer. Things do not pass for what they are, but for what they seem.

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To excel and to know how to show it is to excel twice. What is invisible might as well not exist. Reason itself is not venerated when it does not wear a reasonable face.


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  • Those easily duped outnumber the prudent. Deceit reigns, and things are judged from without, and are seldom what they seem. A fine exterior is the best recommendation of inner perfection. And the focus is merely on aesthetic rather than essence.

    35 Pieces of Life Changing Wisdom that Will Make You More Powerful and Successful

    Seem this way, even if you're not that way. This oracle is street-wise and takes the definition of "wisdom" to a place that seems wise, but in essence, is not very "virtuous" in my opinion. Also, understand that this has been translated by many different people. I own Martin Fischer's translation and when I opened it up to read it, it made no sense to me grammatically or syntactically. Martin Fischer, I presume, is a literalist translator, for Gracian did have that difficult-to-understand writing style where sentences were incomplete and there was a severe lack in verbs.

    So, if you want to get someone's more understandable translation, Christopher Maurer is the translator you want. View all 5 comments. Aug 24, Nick rated it it was amazing. This is one of the great books of wisdom, dispensed in brief paragraphs with headings like "better to be intensive than extensive," and "reserve is the seal of talent. You need to be ready for it to throw something unfair, unexpected, or unpleasant back at you. It's perhaps comforting to know that the book was written years ago, a This is one of the great books of wisdom, dispensed in brief paragraphs with headings like "better to be intensive than extensive," and "reserve is the seal of talent.

    It's perhaps comforting to know that the book was written years ago, and the world is still pretty much the same now as it was then. Others argue the opposite. Well-spent leisure is worth more than work. We have nothing of our own but time. Gracian's Art of Worldly Wisdom is a collection of maxims containing excellent, practical advice; very Senecan, and, at times, Machiavellian in sentiment but much more "Know a little more and live a little less. Gracian's Art of Worldly Wisdom is a collection of maxims containing excellent, practical advice; very Senecan, and, at times, Machiavellian in sentiment but much more applicable than The Prince.

    Personally, I noted around 50 which I would consider essential to read in their entirety, as well as many, many more containing nuggets of gold; for a collection of , there is an impressive amount of quality. We are born to know and to know ourselves, and books reliably turn us into people. Let the third stage be spent entirely with yourself: the ultimate happiness, to philosophise. Jan 08, J. The slim Penguin volume is beautifully put together and if I can get even ten of these guidelines to being a better person straight this year it will be success.

    As it stands, the end of ended on a pretty turbulent note for me and only in the past day or two have I been piecing myself together to saner grounds. This is a great meditation on how to live simply, wisely. Something i aphorisms over years old by Spanish writer Gracian, born four years after the release of Quixote, vol 1. Something in here for everyone, from saintly grandmothers to the most outrageous nihilist, probably a little more for the latter. Yet the struggle for the down and out herein to believe in the wisdom would make it the more worthwhile text.

    These days would be one of millions of Self-Help books, Gracian writing before a time for that kind of Market. Here is just some great, condensed advice, from what I've read spot-on. Great translation by one Jeremy Robbins, a master on Spanish Baroque culture. One which would be on my Currently Reading shelf for a long, long time, if I didn't plan to tuck it away and just read a passage or two every so often.

    Reading ten, slowly, in a row started to remind me of my lesser qualities, the voluminous nature of them.