32 pages 1 hour read

Friedrich Nietzsche

The Gay Science

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 1882

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Important Quotes

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“Weary of Seeking had I grown, / So taught myself the way to Find: / Back by the storm I once was blown, / But follow now, where drives the wind.” 

(“Jest, Ruse and Revenge: A Prelude In Rhyme”, Page 3)

Nietzsche opens The Gay Science with a “Prelude In Rhyme,” a series of verses that introduce the book’s poetic voice. Here,the second verse, titled “My Good Luck,” presents a microcosm of how this book operates. The book presents a philosopher faced with a collapse of beliefs, tossed about by the storm of philosophical investigation. However, this verse suggests optimism. Further, it alludes to Greek mythology and the idea of an epic journey, as in the Odyssey. It foreshadows the ancient Greek drama and ideas central to Nietzsche’s philosophical investigations.

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“Ask never! Cease that whining, pray! / Take without asking, take away!” 

(“Jest, Ruse and Revenge: A Prelude In Rhyme”, Page 6)

Nietzsche titles this brief verse, “The Man of Power Speaks.” It foreshadows Nietzsche’s conclusion about the type of empowered individual freed from the limits of morality and consciousness who follows their own needs for the sake of their happiness. Nietzsche proposes this egoism and drive for freedom produces the greatest intellectual insights towards experiencing self-fulfillment and joy. 

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“Brethren, war’s the origin / Of happiness on earth: / Powder-smoke and battle-din / Witness friendship’s birth! / Friendship means three things, you know, – / Kinship in luckless plight, / Equality before the foe / Freedom – in death’s sight!”

(“Jest, Ruse and Revenge: A Prelude In Rhyme”, Page 11)

Here, three-quarters of the way through the Prelude, Nietzsche reiterates his philosophical battle cry in support of freedom. This quote evidences Nietzsche’s belief in war, since nature produces individuals who seem to need victory. At play here is the