The Art of Worldly Wisdom by Balthazar Gracian (d.1658)

Suggest and discuss books to read (all languages welcome!)
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Post by philoo70 » December 14th, 2007, 10:44 pm

Can we read this book? I'll do it, it's too full of good stuff to not make it available. And I want a copy for myself anyway.

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Post by earthcalling » December 14th, 2007, 11:34 pm

Hi philoo70,

Can you give us a bit more info? When was it published? Is there an online text available?

EDIT - That goes for the translation...



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Post by redaer » February 23rd, 2008, 1:55 pm

An excellent book. I recommend reading it. Unfortunately my bad English pronunciation prohibits me from reading it. I would appreciate if someone would read an English translation and the Spanish original.

I never found online the German translation by Schopenhauer. Does anyone have a link?

You can find a Spanish and English version of Balthasar Gracian's The Art of Worldly Wisdom:

The English translation by Joseph Jacobs [1892]:

Lot of links:

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Post by Cori » May 5th, 2012, 1:17 pm

From the web introduction to the English translation:
Part life-coach, part Machiavelli, part Yoda, Balthasar Gracian [1601-1658], a Jesuit priest, wrote this collection of pithy sayings four centuries ago.Gracian speaks to the twenty-first century as well as the seventeenth. It's only a matter of time before someone markets Gracian's life advice to busy executives, like Sun Tzu or the Book of Five Rings (if it hasn't been already). In the meantime, Gracian can be our little secret.

Jacobs, the translator, is also the author of many books of folklore, etexts of which can also be found at this site, for instance, Celtic Fairy Tales, English Fairy Tales, and Indian Fairy Tales.
(We've done Jacobs too :) )
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Post by RuthieG » May 5th, 2012, 1:49 pm

redaer wrote:I never found online the German translation by Schopenhauer. Does anyone have a link?l
If I have the correct title, Hathi Trust has it here:

It is US Access only, but they are generally very amenable to removing the copyright restrictions if you prove that all authors have been dead for more than 70 years, which is obviously the case here. Use the Feedback button on the page.

There is also an older translation, I think (forgive me, my German is not too good) by A. F. Müllern at

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Post by Nerdberg » February 7th, 2017, 9:03 pm

I've been enjoying the wisdom of Baltasar Gracian lately. The Art of World Wisdom is a relatively short book of 300 separate paragraph-long bits of wisdom in the art of human interaction.

This is a phenomenal book. It was written in 1647 in Spanish, but there are several translations into English over the years from 1892-2009. Individuals change, but humankind as a whole doesn't, so this is still as relevant as ever.

More information here

You can read the 1892 translation here I don't know if any of the more recent translations are copyrighted, but I can't find them online anyway.

I would be interested in reading sections for this book, but not coordinating it. It's divided into segments of 30 aphorisms apiece, and that is how I would suggest it be divided.

:help: :clap:
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Post by TriciaG » February 8th, 2017, 6:29 am

1894 editions here:
and here:

1904 edition here:

The one you linked to is a nice format, better than a straight scan; we'd have to research to see if that edition is out of copyright or if the website claims copyright over it. :)

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Post by soupy » February 18th, 2018, 6:18 pm

The Art Worldly Wisdom by Balthasar Gracian1601-1658 Translated From the Spanish by Joseph Jacobs (1892, 1904) 1854-1916
Baltasar Gracián, was a Spanish Jesuit and baroque prose writer and philosopher. He was born in Belmonte, near Calatayud (Aragon). His writings were lauded by Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. Wikipedia

From the Introduction:
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.

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.

Everything is at its Acme; especially the art of making one's way in the world. There is more required nowadays to make a single wise man than formerly to make Seven Sages, and more is needed nowadays to deal with a single person than was required with a whole people in former times.

Knowledge and Courage are the elements of Greatness. They give immortality, because they are immortal. Each is as much as he knows, and the wise can do anything. A man without knowledge, a world without light. Wisdom and strength, eyes and hands. Knowledge without courage is sterile.

Cultivate those who can teach you. Let friendly intercourse be a school of knowledge, and culture be taught through conversation: thus you make your friends your teachers and mingle the pleasures of conversation with the advantages of instruction. Sensible persons thus enjoy alternating pleasures: they reap applause for what they say, and gain instruction from what they hear. We are always attracted to others by our own interest.
“Drink waters from thine own well.” Proverbs 5:15
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