Publishing News!

Rudd's Self, Value, Narrative (cover)Anthony Rudd has a new book! Rudd, as many of you will know, is one of my favorite Kierkegaard scholars, not simply because he’s a lovely human being, but because his work is of uniformly high quality. His new book is Self, Value and Narrative: A Kierkegaardian Approach (Oxford, 2012). The description on Amazon reads:

Self, Value, and Narrative … defends a series of interrelated claims about the nature of the self. [Rudd] argues that the self is not simply a given entity, but a being that constitutes or shapes itself. But it can only do this non-arbitrarily if it has a sense of the good by which it can be guided as it chooses to endorse some of its desires or dispositions and repudiate others. This means that there is an … ethical or evaluative dimension to selfhood, and one which has an essentially teleological character. Such self-constitution takes place in narrative terms, through one’s telling–and, more importantly, living–one’s own story. …. Rudd develops these ideas in a way that is importantly different from others familiar in the literature. He takes his main inspiration from Kierkegaard’s account of the self, and argues (controversially) that this account belongs in the Platonic rather than the Aristotelian tradition …. Through close engagement with much contemporary philosophical work, Rudd presents a convincing case for an ancient and currently unfashionable view: that the polarities and tensions that are constitutive of selfhood can only be reconciled through an orientation of the self as a whole to an objective Good.

Rudd showed me a paper several years ago in which he was developing this idea of the Platonic roots of Kierkegaard’s concept of the self. If I remember correctly, he was scheduled to give that paper at a meeting of the Central Division of that APA and wanted some feedback on it. I thought then that it was excellent and am very pleased to see that the ideas he expressed in that paper have now been more fully developed and made available to the general public in this volume.

I’m less excited about the publisher. When I went to purchase the book on Amazon, I was shocked to discover that Amazon’s discounted price was $75 and that it was not yet available as an ebook. I shouldn’t have been surprised by the price. Both Oxford and Cambridge are notorious for pricing their books out of the range of everyone but the independently wealthy–and university libraries. I had suggested to Rudd, when he was shopping for a publisher, that he try Baylor. Baylor did a fantastic job with my book Ways of Knowing, and they priced it at a very reasonable $49.95 (hard cover). I actually made money off that book, more money, in fact, than I made off the translations I did for Oxford (which makes me wonder just what Oxford is doing with all the money they are making off authors).

More annoying is the fact that the book is not yet available as an ebook. What’s up with that Oxford? I buy almost exclusively ebooks these days. I’m an unabashed fan of them, despite the recent propaganda campaign against them. I’m going to buy Rudd’s book, of course, because I know it will be excellent. I don’t have to buy it immediately, however, because I won’t be able to get to it immediately, so I encourage everyone to go to the Amazon page for the book and click the “Tell the publisher! I’d like to read this book on Kindle.” Maybe if enough people do that, it will be out in a Kindle edition soon.

I have more good news on the publishing front. Thom Satterlee has sold the Danish rights to his book The Stages: A Novel. It’ll be translated and published by Rosenkilde & Bahnhof in time for SK’s b-day this May. Congrats Thom!

Bad News and Good News…

I have some bad news and some good news. The bad news is that Google, does not, in fact have the complete text of Repetition and Philosophical Crumbs online, but only a portion of it. Also, the site that promises a free ebook version of it is bogus. I’m indebted to Don Anderson for alerting me to these facts. This means that there is no searchable electronic version of this volume, or at least not one in general circulation. I have such a version, but Oxford would have my hide if I started sending it out to people. It was like pulling teeth to get them allow me to publish excerpts in the online journal The Smart Set.

I have a plan though. I am going to make an index for the volume myself and make it available free of charge to anyone who wants it. I probably won’t have it done until sometime this spring. I will let you know, though, when I’ve finished it.

The reason I won’t have the index done until spring is that I am hard at work on my new book Fear and Dissembling: The Copenhagen Kierkegaard Controversy. This book is going to be a collection of English translations of some of the articles that appeared in the Danish media on the controversy over Joakim Garff’s book SAK (GAD, 2000), or Søren Kierkegaard, A Biography (Princeton, 2005). Both Garff and his critic, Peter Tudvad, have tentatively agreed to be involved in the project. I will send each a list of the articles I plan to include for his approval and each is free to recommend additional articles he would like to see included. Garff has also suggested that a few original essays could be appended to the end of the book. I’m all for that if it we can get a good group of contributors and it doesn’t delay the project too much.

I think you’ll like this book. It won’t simply be about Kierkegaard, but about larger issues such as the nature of biography and how difficult it can sometimes be to draw a line between fact and fiction.

Postscript: I have abandoned the idea of doing an index for Crumbs because Oxford has brought out an ebook version that is searchable.

Repetition and Philosophical Crumbs Online!

I made another great discovery a few days ago. My translation of Kierkegaard’s Repetition and Philosophical Crumbs (Oxford, 2009) is now on Google books. Yes, that’s right. It’s not the whole version, but only a portion of it. Still, what’s there is searchable. This is very good news because the print version has no index. Oxford decided against the inclusion of an index, I presume, because including one would have increased production costs and delayed publication (see below). Of course this wouldn’t have been a problem if Oxford had produced an ebook version along with the paperback. Unfortunately, Oxford does not appear to be so forward looking as Cambridge, which produced a Kindle edition of Alastair Hannay’s new translation of Kierkegaard’s Concluding Unscientific Postscript (which is not only searchable but is only $17.60 as opposed to $33.81 for the paperback).

I’d like to put in a plug here for ebooks, and, in particular, for the Kindle ebook reader. I won my Kindle in a contest sponsored by the German publisher Springer just over a year ago and fell completely in love with it. I can get books instantly on my Kindle from wherever I am, I can highlight and cut and paste text and make notes and then upload all this material to my computer. Kindle also allows me to move easily back and forth between text and notes. It’s a scholar’s dream. Yes, it is a way for Amazon to sell books, but what’s wrong with that. I was buying tons of books from Amazon already anyway. Now I am paying less for them. What people don’t know, however, is that many of the books in the “Kindle store” are actually free because they are in the public domain. When you search for a book, if it’s what you could call a classic, then you’ll normally get several pages of hits. If you don’t have to have a particular edition and you don’t want to pay for the book, you just have to look through the various editions until you find the free ones (there are often several free editions). You can also put ebooks that you already have as Word or pdf files on your Kindle.

Ebooks are both the future of reading and the future of scholarship.

I’m sure there’s more great stuff out there on Google books. If my new translations are up there, then there are going to be lots of other books you’ve been wanting but have put off buying because of the expense. Try a little web surfing yourself and if you find anything good, let me know!

(See blog entry from 1/16/11 for info about a free index to Repetition and Philosophical Crumbs.)

Happy New Year!