Baltasar Gracián

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Baltasar Gracián.

Baltasar Gracián y Morales SJ (born January 8, 1601 in Belmonte near Calatayud , † December 6, 1658 in Tarazona , Aragon ) was a Spanish writer , university teacher and Jesuit .

Gracián is one of the most important philosophical writers in classical Spanish literature. He wrote several courtly-political treatises in the baroque style. Because of his enlightened worldview , the moral theologian Gracián was banned from publishing .


Gracián was inducted into the Jesuit order in 1619 . However, he did not write his first religious scripture until 1655, three years before his death. As a preacher and professor of theology he worked a. a. at court in Madrid and at the religious college in Huesca . There he made friends with Vincencio Juan de Lastanosa and got to know contemporary writers and artists through him. De Lastanosa sponsored his friend's publications, most of which appeared under a pseudonym . Under his (!) Name z. B. 1647 probably Gracián's most famous work: Oráculo manual y arte de prudencia ( Hand oracle and the art of sophistication ), which, like a guide, gathers aphorisms on the art of wise living .

The Kritikon

After the publication of the critically disillusioning allegorical novel El Criticón (1651–1657, Das Kritikon ), Gracián came into conflict with his order: he was banned from publishing, lost his teaching post in Saragossa and was placed under house arrest for a while. Baltasar Gracián y Morales SJ died on December 6th, 1658 in the Jesuit college of Tarazona.


El Criticón

In his work Das Kritikon or “What needs to be judged”, Gracián addresses the conflict between the individual striving for self-preservation and the social decline of Spain. In his thinking, worldly wisdom is determined by skepticism , if not even by world negation .

Oráculo manual y arte de prudencia

The hand oracle and art of worldly wisdom (= 'careful cleverness') consists of 300 paratactically abbreviated sayings that were an intellectual challenge not only in the 17th century.

Reception in Germany

Gracián's hand oracle was translated into German as early as 1711, although a French-language edition served as a template. A little later, a translation from the Spanish with detailed comments, which was provided by August Friedrich Müller , came out. This early enlightenment reception was largely stimulated by Christian Thomasius . Between 1828 and 1832 Arthur Schopenhauer translated the hand oracle again into German ; this transmission is available in many different editions. There you can also find the famous quote: "Think like the fewest and talk like the most."

For a long time the German-speaking Gracián reception was limited to the hand oracle , but this changed towards the end of the 20th century with various new editions. The on Hieronymus Bosch's images or Dante Alighieri's allegorical Divine Comedy reminiscent, but unlike worldly and critical therefore coming "novel" a "journey into the dominions of stupidities and virtues" The Kritikon is only at the beginning of the 21st century in a complete German translation for Become accessible to non-Romanists.


The Baltasar Gracián Culture Prize is awarded by the Foundation for Conservative Education and Research (FKBF) founded by Caspar Freiherr von Schrenck-Notzing . The awards were given to Gerd-Klaus Kaltenbrunner in 1985 and Erwin K. Scheuch in 2001 .


  • El Héroe , 1639, German: The hero . Translated by Elena Carvajal, Hannes Böhringer . Merve, Berlin 1996, ISBN 3-88396-132-9 .
  • El político Don Fernando el Católico , 1640, on Ferdinand the Catholic [Eng. Translated from 1675 by Daniel Casper von Lohenstein ].
  • Arte de Ingenio. Tratado de la Agudeza , 1642, extended version under the title: Agudeza y arte de ingenio, 1648, German: ingenuity and the art of poetic creativity .
  • El Discreto, 1646, German: The clever man of the world (El Discreto). Translated into German from the Spanish original of 1646 and appended by Sebastian Neumeister. Dtv, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-423-13254-X .
  • Oráculo manual y arte de prudencia , 1647, German: Hand oracle and art of sophistication - German edition: Balt h asar Gracián, Handorakel ... Reclam, Stuttgart 1986, ISBN 3-15-002771-3 .
  • El Criticón, 1651–1657, German: Das Kritikon. Translated by Hartmut Köhler . Ammann, Zurich 2001; Fischer Taschenbuch, Frankfurt am Main 2004, ISBN 3-596-15902-4 .


  • Hans Peter Balmer : Condicio humana or What human being means. Moralistic Perspectives on Practical Philosophy. Readbox, Münster 2018, ISBN 978-3-95925-067-2 , pp. 119–132, urn : nbn: de: bvb: 19-epub-41154-9 .
  • Georg Braungart : Rhetoric as a strategy of political cleverness: z. B. Baltasar Gracian. In: Josef Kopperschmidt : Politics and Rhetoric. Functional models of political speech. Westdeutscher Verlag, Opladen 1995, ISBN 3-531-12558-3 , pp. 146-160.
  • Karl-Heinz Göttert : Communication ideals. Investigations on European conversation theory. Iudicium, Munich 1988, ISBN 3-89129-211-2 , pp. 44-67: “The ideal of wisdom in the baroque. Baltasar Gracián's 'Oráculo manual y arte de prudencia' ”.
  • Manfred Hinz: The human and divine means. Seven comments on Baltasar Gracián. Romanistischer Verlag, Bonn 2002, ISBN 3-86143-134-3 .
  • Werner Krauss : Gracián's teaching of life. Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 1947 a. ö., ISBN 3-465-03073-7 .
  • Andreas Luckner: Wisdom. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2005, ISBN 3-11-017706-4 , pp. 129-140.
  • Sebastian Neumeister (ed.): Los conceptos de Gracián. Tercer Coloquio Internacional sobre Baltasar Gracián en Ocasión de los 350 Años de su Muerte (Berlin, 27–29 de noviembre de 2008). Tranvia / Frey, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-938944-40-0 .
  • Sebastian Neumeister: Baltasar Gracián: a pragmatist between ethics and aesthetics. In: Janez Perčič, Johannes Herzgsell (ed.): Great thinkers of the Jesuit order. Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn 2016, ISBN 978-3-506-78400-1 , pp. 27-44.
  • Gerhart Schröder: Baltasar Gracián's 'Criticón'. An investigation into the relationship between mannerism and moralism. Fink, Munich 1966.
  • Mariela Vargas: Baltasar Gracián's footsteps in the writings of Walter Benjamin . Kulturverlag Kadmos, Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-86599-400-4 .

Web links

Commons : Baltasar Gracián  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. See Catrin Kersten: Friendship and Advice. Studies on their historical semantics and literary representation (Gracián, Knigge, Goethe). Kadmos, Berlin 2013, ISBN 978-3-86599-186-7 , pp. 159-173.
  2. Balthasar Gracián: Homme de Cour, or: Kluger Hof- und Welt-Mann / According to Monsieur Amelot de la Houssaie, his French version, translated into German / By Selintes [d. i. Christian Weissbach]. Paul Kühtzen, Augspurg 1711 (digitized version of the BSB) .
  3. Balthasar Gracián: Oracul that you can carry with you and always have at hand. That is; Art rules of wisdom / vormahls by Mr. Amelot de la Houssaye under the title, L'Homme de Cour in French, anietzo but from the Spanish original / which has been added through and through, translated into German, with new comments / In which the maxims of the author from the principles of moral doctrine ( ! ) are explained and judged by August Friedrich Müller. Caspar Jakob Eyssel, Leipzig 1715 (digitized from HathiTrust's digital library); a second edition appeared in 1733 (digitized on Google Books ).
  4. See Sebastian Neumeister: Baroque ideal of education: Christian Thomasius reads Gracián. In: Germanic-Romanic monthly . New episode. Volume 52 (2001), pp. 39-47.
  5. E.g. Balthasar Gracián: Hand oracle and art of worldly wisdom. Drawn from his works by D. Vincencio Juan de Lastanosa and faithfully and carefully translated from the Spanish original by Arthur Schopenhauer. Edited by Arthur Hübscher . Reclam, Stuttgart 1990 a. ö. - Digital version of the second edition of the first edition, F. A. Brockhaus, Leipzig 1871 (copy of the BSB).
  6. Hand oracle 1871, p. 27