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The Oxford Book of Aphorisms

An aphorism is "a short pithy statement or maxim," but beneath this definition lies a wealth of wit and insight to which neither the word nor a brief description can do justice.
This anthology demonstrates just how rewarding an art form the aphorism can be, and just how brilliantly the aphorist can illuminate the hidden truth, or lay bare the ironies of existence. Specific sections on desires and longings, self-doubt, fame and reputations, happiness and sorrow, cover the whole range of aphoristic literature. This book brings together the most diverse figures--the classic aphorists, like La Rochefoucauld; the philosophers, from the Greeks to Samuel Johnson to Virginia Woolf--as well as statesmen, scientists, boulevardiers, Olympians, and gadflies. John Gross draws on their wisdom and wit to produce an anthology that will be referred to time and time again.
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Table of Contents

Introduction ; Aphorists & Aphorisms I ; Nature ; Mankind ; Life ; Desires & Longings ; Fears, Hopes, Passions ; Design and Chance ; Individuals ; The Sense of Identity ; Self-Love ; Self-Knowledge ; Self-Doubt ; One Among Many ; Fame & Reputation ; The Arts of Success ; Action & Achievement ; Money & Rank ; The Social Fabric ; Love, Jealousy, Libido ; Happiness & Sorrow ; Good & Evil ; etc

About the Author

John Gross was editor of the Times Literary Supplement from 1974 to 1981 and on the staff of the New York Times from 1983 to 1988. He has been theatre critic of the Sunday Telegraph since 1989 and is the editor of other Oxford anthologies and After Shakespeare: An Anthology, published this year to rave reviews.


'fascinating ... [the reader] will experience the delight of having his worst fears for the human race confirmed with brevity and style' * Quentin Crisp * 'a really splendid book' * Observer * 'And now, from the people who bring you the best anthologies, one of their best anthologies' * Christopher Ricks, Sunday Times * 'an admirable collection' * Anthony Burgess * Review from previous edition 'entertaining, thoughtful, splendidly varied' * Kingsley Amis *

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