Geary's Guide to the World's Great Aphorists

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Overview

Bestselling expert James Geary's enlightening, entertaining compendium of wit and wisdom, from Sun Tzu to Desmond Tutu--and 350 aphorists in between.

Both an expert and a collector, James Geary has devoted his life to aphorisms--and the last few years to organizing, indexing, and even translating them. The result is Geary's Guide, featuring classic writers like Voltaire, Twain, Shakespeare, and Nietzsche, but also more surprising figures, such as Woody Allen, Muhammad Ali, Emily...

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Geary's Guide to the World's Great Aphorists

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Overview

Bestselling expert James Geary's enlightening, entertaining compendium of wit and wisdom, from Sun Tzu to Desmond Tutu--and 350 aphorists in between.

Both an expert and a collector, James Geary has devoted his life to aphorisms--and the last few years to organizing, indexing, and even translating them. The result is Geary's Guide, featuring classic writers like Voltaire, Twain, Shakespeare, and Nietzsche, but also more surprising figures, such as Woody Allen, Muhammad Ali, Emily Dickinson, and Mae West. Some of the aphorists appear in English for the first time. But it is more than just a conventional anthology. It is also an encyclopedia, containing brief biographies of each author in addition to a selection of his or her aphorisms. The book is a field guide, too, with aphorists organized into eight different "species," such as Comics, Critics & Satirists; Icons & Iconoclasts; and Painters & Poets. The book's two indexes--by author and by subject--make it easily searchable, while its unique organizational structure and Geary's lively biographical entries make it different from all previous reference works.

Geary's Guide is eminently suitable for browsing or for sustained reading. A comprehensive guide to our most intimate, idiosyncratic literary form, the book is an indispensable tool for writers and public speakers as well as essential reading for all language lovers.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“…a wonderful breviary of wisdom, insight and cynicism, and one that will immediately find a place at many bedsides…there are pleasures and surprises galore.”-WashingtonPost

“An agreeable thing to have in your lap.”—Dwight Garner

Geary's Guide to the World's Great Aphorists is a rich, well-edited compendium, which is at once a feast, a frolic, a thought-kit and a treasure trove. A book to relish and to keep close.”—John Lahr, New Yorker

“A masterful compilation from a man adept at taking the pith.”—Ben Schott

Praise for The World in a Phrase:

“[An] entertaining love letter to the compact form.”—New York Times

“A reward. Geary presents several dozen coiners of pithy, memorable sayings.”Washington Post

“The definitive work on aphorisms, a love letter–cum–memoir disguised as a reference book.”—Publishers Weekly

Michael Dirda
Geary has done a lot of research, both in libraries, where he claims to have consulted 1,400 volumes, and on the Internet, where he now maintains an aphorism Web site to which readers can contribute. Not surprisingly then, his new book is a wonderful breviary of wisdom, insight and cynicism, and one that will immediately find a place at many bedsides…Though most readers will gravitate to the aphorisms themselves, Geary's pen portraits of their authors shouldn't be overlooked. He says something fresh or interesting about nearly everyone.
—The Washington Post
Library Journal

Aphorisms are always a delight to read; paragraph-long biographies of the aphorists, less so. New York Timesbest-selling author Geary's (The World in a Phrase) idiosyncratic book makes up for this by listing as many as four to 30 aphorisms from 350 authors. These are divided loosely into eight categories, looselybeing the operative word. "Old Souls and Oracles," for example, oddly links Yogi Berra with Augustine, Confucius, Jesus, Ecclesiastes, and Zen Masters. And why divide "Moralists" into "Major and Minor" but not do the same with "Philosophers and Theorists"? The catchall category of "Strange Beasts" contains aphorisms by such writers as Ambrose Bierce, Emily Dickinson, Diogenes, and Nietzsche, who surely could have fit better elsewhere. Geary concentrates on English, Dutch, and German aphorists because he knows those languages, but he includes translations by others. All in all, a fun book that is too quirky to serve as a reference or compendium; recommended only for large libraries with popular reading collections.
—Kitty Chen Dean

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596912526
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 10/2/2007
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 1,392,519
  • Product dimensions: 5.26 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 1.41 (d)

Meet the Author

James Geary is the author of The World in a Phrase: A Brief History of the Aphorism and The Body Electric: An Anatomy of the New Bionic Senses. He lives in London with his wife and three children. His Web site is www.jamesgeary.com.

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Table of Contents


Be Sincere, Be Brief, Be Seated     1
Comics, Critics, and Satirists     9
Icons and Iconoclasts     68
Moralists, Major and Minor     109
Novelists and Playwrights     181
Old Souls and Oracles     218
Painters and Poets     259
Philosophers and Theorists     315
Strange Beasts     356
Afterisms     391
Bibliography     393
Index of Aphorists     417
Index of Themes     423
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