Publishing News

I have a few miscellaneous bits of publishing news that might be of interest to readers of this blog. First, the URL for my website has changed. It used to have a “www” at the beginning, but it is now simply Simpler is better, I think. Unfortunately, the new URL is not the only change to the website. The site used to be hosted on Apple’s Mobile Me, but when Mobile Me closed down at the end of June, I had to move it to another host and the move resulted not only in the name change, but in the loss of several features of the site, such as the one that allowed people to post comments to the entries on my blog Reading Notes. There were quite a few comments, but they were all lost and it appears there’s no way to get them back. My plan is to create an entirely new website. I will probably move it to WordPress, the host of this blog. WordPress is fantastic.

I made another discovery relating to Ferrall and Repp’s excellent Danish-English dictionary from 1845. Not only is it available as an ebook that can be downloaded for free from Google Books, it is now available in actual physical book form. That is, it can be printed on demand for $28.69! Here is a link to the page on Amazon with the details.

Finally, I received and email recently from a journalist at Jyllands-Posten in Denmark. He said they were doing a series on important books published in the last 50 years and planned to include a piece on Garff’s biography of Kierkegaard. He said he’d noticed that I was writing a book on the biography and asked me how I saw the issue today, “almost ten years later.” He said the whole controversy had been largely forgotten in Denmark.

I responded that that was, unfortunately, what I had feared would happen and precisely why I was doing a book on the controversy. Everyone involved tried to cover the thing up. The Danish publisher GAD issued a corrected paperback edition of the book without indicating anywhere that it was a corrected edition. It has the same copyright date as the original uncorrected edition. This information was in the newspapers, of course, in fact Garff was effectively forced to promise in print to produce such a corrected edition, but who is going to read eight-year old newspaper articles, let alone ten or twenty-year old newspapers articles.

The situation is even worse with the English translation of the book. When I wrote to Peter Dougherty, the head of Princeton University Press, to inquire whether the new English paperback edition incorporated the corrections that had been made to the Danish paperback edition, he said he didn’t know what had been done to the Danish edition, but that the new English paperback incorporated 52 pages of corrections. Fifty-two pages–that’s a lot. We’re not talking typos here. We’re talking 52 pages of corrections of factual errors. Just as was the case with the Danish edition, however, there is nothing to alert readers to the fact that the English paperback is a new edition. It too has the same copyright date as the original uncorrected English edition. But where many Danes still remember the controversy, most readers of the English edition don’t know anything about it because the only piece that appeared on it in what could generously be called the popular media in the U.S. was a whitewash in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The controversy over Garff’s biography of Kierkegaard was not merely an indictment of scholarly publishing, it was a particularly ugly chapter of intellectual history more generally. It’s one we can all learn a great deal from though–if we don’t forget it.