Although dour in appearance and formidable in reputation, Friedrich Nietzsche was an ardent practitioner of the art of poetry—called in twelfth-century Provencal "the gay science." This volume, which Nietzsche referred to as "the most personal of all my books," features the largest collection of his poetry that he ever chose to publish. It also offers an extensive and sophisticated treatment of the philosophical themes and views most central to his thinking, as well as the ideas that proved most influential to later philosophers.
Dating from the era when Nietzsche was at the peak of his intellectual powers, most of this book was written just before Thus Spoke Zarathustra, and the rest of it five years later, after Beyond Good and Evil. Zarathustra makes his first appearance in these pages, along with the author's well-known proclamation of the death of God—a concept to which much of the book is devoted—and his doctrine of the eternal recurrence. Readers will find this volume a wellspring for some of Nietzsche's most sustained and thought-provoking discussions of art and morality, knowledge and truth, the intellectual conscience, and the origin of logic.