The Waste Books

The Waste Books

by Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
     
 

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German scientist and man of letters Georg Christoph Lichtenberg was an 18th-century polymath: an experimental physicist, an astronomer, a mathematician, a practicing critic both of art and literature. He is most celebrated, however, for the casual notes and aphorisms that he collected in what he called his Waste Books. With unflagging intelligence and

Overview

German scientist and man of letters Georg Christoph Lichtenberg was an 18th-century polymath: an experimental physicist, an astronomer, a mathematician, a practicing critic both of art and literature. He is most celebrated, however, for the casual notes and aphorisms that he collected in what he called his Waste Books. With unflagging intelligence and encyclopedic curiosity, Lichtenberg wittily deflates the pretensions of learning and society, examines a range of philosophical questions, and tracks his own thoughts down hidden pathways to disconcerting and sometimes hilarious conclusions.

Lichtenberg's Waste Books have been greatly admired by writers as very different as Tolstoy, Einstein, and Andre Breton, while Nietzsche and Wittgenstein acknowledged them as a significant inspiration for their own radical work in philosophy. The record of a brilliant and subtle mind in action, The Waste Books are above all a powerful testament to the necessity, and pleasure, of unfettered thought.

Editorial Reviews

Vancouver Sun
One of the most compulsively readable books to come out of the 18th-century German Enlightenment.
Arthur C. Danto
Litchburg's sayings have the immediate relevance of late-night television, but there is an abiding wisdom that often makes them pertinent two centuries after they were scribbled down. If one reads them the way one eats chocolates, two or three at a time, The Waste Books gives a rare pleasure, stating things we might have thought of ourselves, expressed in ways that never would have occurred to us.
Bookforum

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780940322509
Publisher:
New York Review Books
Publication date:
09/28/2000
Series:
New York Review Books Classics Series
Pages:
264
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 8.01(h) x 0.61(d)

What People are saying about this

Gordon Craig
Among the great achievements of the German spirit.

Meet the Author

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg was born in 1742 in Oberramstadt, Germany. In 1763 he joined the University of Gottingen where he studied mathematics and the natural sciences and, in 1770 was appointed a professor at the university. In addition to his scientific writings, he wrote Letters from England and a book on Hogarth’s etchings. Lichtenberg died in 1799.

R.J. Hollingdale (1930-2001) was born in London and after serving in the RAF became a prominent scholar and biographer of Nietzsche. Among his many translations are Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Ecce Homo, Twilight of the Idols, The Anti-Christ, and Beyond Good and Evil; A Nietzsche Reader; Goethe’s Elective Affinities; Schopenhauer’s Essays and Aphorisms; and a selection of Hoffmann’s Tales.

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