32 pages 1 hour read

Friedrich Nietzsche

The Gay Science

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 1882

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Jest, Ruse and Revenge: A Prelude In Rhyme-Book SecondChapter Summaries & Analyses

Summary: “Jest, Ruse and Revenge: A Prelude In Rhyme”

In sixty-three brief verses, Nietzsche introduces the voice of the free-spirit, medieval, troubadour knight of the poems in The Gay Science. With titles like “My Cruelty,” “The Disguised Saint,” and “Taste in Choosing,” the verses touch on themes of darkness, unrivaled joy, freedom, and immortality. Each one reads like an incantation, or a quick revelation. This prelude in verse sets the optimistic, profound, yet sometimes ironic tone for this book of poems, introducing us to the whimsical yet educated voice Nietzsche employs.

From the first verse, Nietzsche opens the door on a new philosophical world: “Venture, comrades, I implore you, / On the fare I set before you” (3). “A Prelude In Rhyme” evolves as though the speaker is recounting a journey from intellectual darkness and confusion to light and clarity, then back again into the dark well, before emerging with a second clarity. This alludes to the jubilant philosophical physician, discussed in the Preface, whose mission, Nietzsche says, is best described as healing a sickness. “The whole book is really nothing but a revel after long privation and impotence: the frolicking of returning energy, of newly awakened belief in a to-morrow and after to-morrow” (vii).

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