Baltasar Gracian's Art of Worldly Wisdom offers practical advice on how to make your way in a chaotic world, and how to make it well. The three hundred aphorisms contained here, first published as Oraculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia in 1647, remain remarkably relevant today. The political and social upheavals of Spain's Golden Era bear a striking resemblance to 21st century reality, political transformations, ecomic battles that pit local interests against global forces, competing religious outlooks seeking to shape secular worlds and new techlogies torn between democratization and centralization. Gracian's aphorisms, as much poetry as instruction, address us today as practical guides for civility in an often uncivil world, and may serve as invitations to participate in making an uncivil world as civil as possible.
Baltasar Gracian y Morales was born in 1601 in Belmonte, Spain. He studied at a Jesuit school in Zaragosa and became a novice at the age of eighteen. After being ordained in 1627, he joined the Jesuits in 1633. He taught philosophy and theology at Jesuit schools in Aragon, Gandia, and Huesca before moving to the Jesuit College of Tarragona. There he served as rector until he was banished by the Jesuit Provost General for publishing the third part of his novel Criticon in 1657 without proper permission. Gracian died in Tarragona in 1658.