Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Art of Worldly Wisdom” as Want to Read:
The Art of Worldly Wisdom
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Art of Worldly Wisdom

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  2,472 ratings  ·  197 reviews
The remarkable best-seller -- a long-lost, 300-year-old book of wisdom on how to live successfully yet responsibly in a society governed by self-interest -- as acute as Machiavelli yet as humanistic and scrupulously moral as Marcus Aurelius.
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published December 1st 1991 by Crown Business (first published 1653)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Art of Worldly Wisdom, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Art of Worldly Wisdom

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.25  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,472 ratings  ·  197 reviews

Sort order
Mar 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book wasn't quite what I expected, yet it was still a good experience. If you have - or will - read Machiavelli's "The Prince", Sun Tzu's "The Art Of War" and/or Castiglione's "The Book Of The Courtier", this is another good book to this type of books. There's is also some certainty that the author read "The Prince" (since it came out earlier than this book, which came out in 1647); the fact that the author of this present book was a Jesuit no doubt helped, since I do know Jesuits have been ...more
Elisa Kemp
Sep 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
"Use human means as if there were no divine ones and use divine means as if there were no human ones."
Aug 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favs
The Art of Worldly Wisdom by Baltasar Gracián is unlike any book you are likely to find on bookshelves today. Self-help books can be helpful, but they are usually focused on what to do after you have encountered certain problems. Business books are often a collection of case studies or “war stories.” The Art of Worldly Wisdom teaches the same sort of lessons (and more) in a much broader context. It is a manual on how to be successful at anything in life. Considering that it is still amazing rele ...more
Roy Lotz
Cada uno habla del objeto según su afecto.

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 1892 and the second in 1992. Advice typically does not age well, but Gracián’s has stood the temporal test.

Yet for the reader of
Pearce Hansen
Feb 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Astonishing how true Garcian's aphorisms remain hundreds of years later and how much the culture of Spain at the time seems so modern....A work to study and be studied again and again. This is timeless in its wisdom--I would add I don't agree with everything he says and that although he can be spiritual at times, this is a guide of "Worldly Wisdom" and something that as a Jesuit priest he was sometimes condemned for this worldlyness...Much on the same level of "Art of War" by Sun Tzu.
Feb 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
از اینکه سالهای متمادی خوندن این کتاب رو به تاخیر انداختم، متاسفم.
این کتاب اصل جنسه.
این همون کتابیه که «رابرت گرین» بخشهایی از «کتاب 48 قانون قدرت» رو ازش الهام گرفته، (منتها بعضی جاهاش کلمه به کلمه). سیصد قاعده کلی پندآموز که میتونه برای هر کسی مفید باشه. توی یک پاراگراف چیزی رو میگه که بعضیها همون رو توی یک کتاب توضیح میدن. مختصر و مفید.
مسلما از این به بعد یکی از کتابهای دم دستی من همینه.
باشد که رستگار شویم.
Sarah Ansani
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. However, I took the wisdom in this book less as HOW to be and more as HOW to watch out for people like this. I'll agree that it's all wisdom, but it's more something to UNDERSTAND rather than something to BE. A lot of the advice gears toward deception, vanity, and greed:

"Let someone else take the hit. You will shield yourself fro
Feb 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: is-guc
"Gerçek kitaplar bizi gerçek insanlar yapar."
Aug 24, 2008 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." Gracian might best be described as an honorable politician; he advocates dealing with the world with rectitude, but keeping a close eye on how the world responds. 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 300 years ago, a ...more
Mehmet B
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Adına bakıp da ”kişisel gelişim kitabı” gibi düşünülmemeli. Baltasar Gracian isminde 17. yüzyılda yaşamış bir düşünürün zamanın ötesine, anlamak isteyenlere gönderdiği yoğun bir mektup olarak ele alınabilir. Okunup bir kenara bırakılacak değil de unuttukça veya gerektiğinde dönülecek bir başvuru kaynağı...
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, essays
"Know a little more and live a little less. Others argue the opposite. Well-spent leisure is worth more than work. We have nothing of our own but time . . . "(245)

One of the first books I remember adding to my "to-read" list many years ago, this was one of the few works that thoroughly exceeded any expectations I may have had.

Gracian's Art of Worldly Wisdom is a collection of 300 maxims containing excellent, practical advice; very Senecan, and, at times, Machiavellian in sentiment (but much more
Feb 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Baltasar Gracián enumera 300 aforismos que constituyen las pautas para el hombre de referencia del barroco. Así como Castiglione propusiera al cortesano como modelo, Gracián opta por un ideal de persona que nombra como el discreto, y para el cual configura unas propiedades que se basan alrededor de la prudencia y virtud. De esa forma, Gracián lo que hace en este libro es exponer cómo debe actuar el hombre prudente de cara a la sociedad para tener relativo éxito y mantenerse estable. Entre varias ...more
Philippe Malzieu
Feb 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"The contempt is the most subtle form of revenge"

Gracian was Jesuit. It did not respect many thing. He had the arrogance of those which know their talent. He published his books without authorizations. His visions sour and cynical terrified his superiors.
I was very mechant with Macchiavel by advising you to substitute Gracian to him. The form will undoubtedly appear less formal to you, more futile. But at the bottom it is a fine analysis of the social reports and way to evolve in society.
It is t
Sevinc abbaszada
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Məktəblərdə dərs kitabı kimi oxudulmalıdır! O dərəcə faydalı bir kitab olduğunu düşünürəm.
J.W.D. Nicolello
300 aphorisms over 300 years old by Spanish writer Gracian, born four years after the release of Quixote, vol 1. 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 2013 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 ...more
This book can not be over-estimated. I use this book the way others refer to the bible. (I DO also read the Bible, The Qu'ran and other religous books as well) However, the advice in this little book is invaluable. There are days when I am troubled and I will meditate on the problem, run my thumb over the pages and pick a random spot and it never fails to deliver some sage and relevant advice. EVERYONE should have a copy.
Nov 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Este libro me gustó tanto que en repetidas ocasiones comenzaba a subrayar algún fragmento para recordarlo, y terminé subrayando casi el libro entero. Contiene muchas máximas, tan útiles y tan verdaderas todas que se hace necesario darle una hojeada frecuentemente.
Jul 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone!
Shelves: booksisuggest
Excellent series of lessons that people from all walk's of life can enjoy and learn from.

Very insightful and thought provoking. Very easy read.
Quang Nguyen
Something is probably wrong with the translation (current Kindle edition on but the book does offer some great pearls of wisdom on how to live lovable and die memorable.
Edit: Turned out I bought the one with the worst translation. Geez...
Erdogan Cicek
May 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
The book is like a social version of "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu and it advises to approach to all events and preventing from human-relational problems by wisdom and intelligence..
May 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
I wanted very much to read Gracián’s El Criticón, but the only English translation is a dreadfully archaic one from the 17th century. So I decided on this small handbook of 300 paragraph-long aphorisms. Very soon, my disappointment turned to distaste as I found myself assaulted by an alternation between vapid one-liners -- in some cases, old clichés -- and cynical musings couched in the cheerful and self-indulgent language of virtue.

Each paragraph contained a string of one-sentence aphorisms th
Jan 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Life for Dummies"
The missing manual on how to lead a happy, successful life.
I wish I would have had this book in high school! I think it should be on everyone's essential reading list.

Although these condensed insights and suggestions come down to us from almost 400 years ago, their relevance to our experience today is striking and proves the depth of these maxims. The famous philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer translated this about 200 years ago and called it "a book made for constant use" and rec
Dec 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, favorites
One of the best books about, for lack of a better expression, how life and the world work, the importance of image and perception and being smart in general.
Centuries later we see people, society and their perception and judgment didn't really change that much at all.
Better yet it's written, how can I say, positively, without the cynicism of say, The Prince or other books who try to do the same.
Fee Scott
Jan 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I found this book by way of [the author of 48 Laws of Power] Robert Greene's Twitter account. I always believe if you want to truly know, find the inspirations and mentors of the wise. I truly love this book, could be s challengings if you're not into classic literature, but for me, one of the best books I've ever read. Very applicable and timeless wisdom.
Jul 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Serait-il le premier "self-help" book de notre histoire ? Un moine jésuite du 17eme siècle donne des leçons éternels non seulement aux princes (Machiavel) ou généraux (Sun-Tsu) mais tout le monde: "Use human means as if there were no divine ones and use divine means as if there were no human ones." Ce conseil est parmi 300 leçons qui aide á mieux comprendre l'esprit humain.
Andrew Walton
Sep 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was a very good book. It helped me learn a lot about my self this summer. I recommend this book highly. I changed into a wiser person through this book. A quote that I remember that stuck out to me was that if you hurt your finger it will hit things more than the others. Protect the ones that need care.
Elisa Goudriaan
Apr 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'Laat de omgang met vrienden een leerschool van beschaving zijn en onze conversatie met hen verfijnd onderwijs.'

Uit Leefregel 11 (Omgaan met mensen van wie wij iets kunnen leren)
Mar 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Đa số các linh mục dòng tên Công Giáo quả thật là những người xuất chúng, đều đó thể hiện qua cuốn cách cổ này , đã được xuất bản cách đây 4 thế kỷ , cuốn sách này được viết theo phong cách các câu cách ngôn - mỗi câu cách ngôn sẽ được viết chi tiết ở dưới cái phần tóm gọn ấy, giải thích nó rõ thêm, có toàn bộ 230 câu theo tôi nhớ là vậy, nói chung câu nào cũng chất , tóm lại cuốn sách là cẩm nang cho thuật xử thế và chống lại những kẻ tiểu nhân, có một chút thao túng người khác trong quyển sách ...more
Zohreh Samiei
دو و نيم، نهايت سخاوتي كه مي توانم بخرج دهم!😒
شايد بعلت انتظار بيش از اندازه اي كه ازين كتاب داشتم!🙄🤔
با خواندن اصل ٢٩٩ به اين نتيجه رسيدم كه ديدگاه و هدف مولف ازين اثر چيست!!(البته شايد يكم زياده روي باشد😬)
٢٩٩- بگذاريد افراد تشنه لب باشند. ... قاعده ي خشنود ساختن: برانگيختن اشتها، اما گرسنه نگاه داشتن آنها. ...
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Maybe same editions 4 50 Apr 07, 2013 10:28AM  
  • Maxims
  • The Waste Books
  • Slavery and Freedom
  • The Principle of Reason
  • The Imperative of Responsibility: In Search of an Ethics for the Technological Age
  • It's Not All about Me: The Top Ten Techniques for Building Quick Rapport with Anyone
  • Beast and Man: The Roots of Human Nature
  • Personal Knowledge
  • Turn Off Your Mind: The Mystic Sixties & the Dark Side of the Age of Aquarius
  • The Possibility of Altruism
  • L'arte di essere felici
  • New Science
  • The Devil's Pleasure Palace: The Cult of Critical Theory and the Subversion of the West
  • Theory & Practice of Gamesmanship
  • Thinking Body, Dancing Mind: Taosports for Extraordinary Performance in Athletics, Business, and Life
  • Jung to Live by
  • Learning the Virtues: That Lead You to God
  • All Things are Possible (Apotheosis of Groundlessness)
Baltasar Gracián y Morales, SJ (8 January 1601 – 6 December 1658), formerly Anglicized as Baltazar Gracian,[1] was a Spanish Jesuit and baroque prose writer and philosopher. He was born in Belmonte, near Calatayud (Aragón). His proto-existentialist writings were lauded by Nietzsche and Schopenhauer.

The son of a doctor, in his childhood Gracián lived with his uncle, who was a priest. He studied at
“Never open the door to a lesser evil, for other and greater ones invariably slink in after it.” 1903 likes
“A wise man gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friends.” 751 likes
More quotes…