The Art of Worldly Wisdom (Paperback)

The Art of Worldly Wisdom Cover Image
By Joseph Jacobs (Translator), Baltasar Gracian
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We may certainly say of Gracian what Heine by an amiable fiction said of himself: he was one of the first men of his century. For he was born 8th January 1601 at Belmonte, a suburb of Calatayud, in the kingdom of Aragon. By Gracian's time it had again been Christian and Spanish for many generations, and Gracian himself was of noble birth. For a Spaniard of noble birth only two careers were open, arms and the Church. In the seventeenth century arms had yielded to the cassock, and Balthasar and his three brothers all took orders. He joined the Company of Jesus in 1619, when in its most flourishing state, after the organising genius of Acquaviva had given solid form to the bold counter-stroke of Loyola to the Protestant Revolution. Once enrolled among the ranks of the Jesuits, the individual disappears, the Jesuit alone remains. There is scarcely anything to record of Gracian's life except that he was a Jesuit, and engaged in teaching what passes with the Order for philosophy and sacred literature, and became ultimately Rector of the Jesuit College at Tarragona.

Gracian's style, which after all was the most striking thing about his works. That style reaches its greatest perfection in the Or culo Manual, to which we might at once turn but for a preliminary inquiry which it seems worth while to make. It is a book of maxims as distinguished from a book of aphorisms, and it is worth while for several reasons inquiring into maxims in general and maxim literature in particular before dealing with what is probably the most remarkable specimen of its class.

Many men have sought to give their views about man and about life in a pithy way; a few have tried to advise men in short sentences what to do in the various emergencies of life. The former have written aphorisms, the latter maxims. Where the aphorism states a fact of human nature, a maxim advises a certain course of action. The aphorism is written in the indicative, the maxim in an imperative mood. "Life is interesting if not happy," is an aphorism, of Professor Seely's, I believe. "Ascend a step to choose a friend, descend a step to choose a wife," is a maxim of Rabbi Meir, one of the Doctors of the Talmud. Now it is indeed curious how few maxims have ever been written. Wisdom has been extolled on the house-tops, but her practical advice seems to have been kept secret.

- Taken from "The Art of Worldly Wisdom" written by Baltasar Gracian and translated by Joseph Jacobs.

Product Details
ISBN: 9781711029948
ISBN-10: 1711029947
Publisher: Independently Published
Publication Date: November 26th, 2019
Pages: 102
Language: English