Slanted Truths: The Gay Science as Nietzsche's Ars Poetica

Evental Aesthetics 5 (1):98-117 (2016)
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This essay derives its focus on poetry from the subtitle of Die Fröhliche Wissenschaft: “la gaya scienza.” Nietzsche appropriated this phrase from the phrase “gai saber” used by the Provençal knight-poets (or troubadours) of the eleventh through thirteenth centuries — the first lyric poets of the European languages — to designate their Ars Poetica or “art of poetry.” I will begin with an exploration of Nietzsche’s treatment of poets and poetry as a subject matter, closely analyzing his six aphorisms which deal explicitly with poets and poetry. Having considered The Gay Science as a text about poetry, I will then briefly explore three further ways in which The Gay Science can be thought of as itself a kind of poetry. The result of these analyses is an understanding of Nietzsche’s own understanding of philosophy (and of the best way to live) as also a form of poetry.

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Joshua M. Hall
University of Alabama, Birmingham


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