Private Notebooks: 1914-1916
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Written in code under constant threat of battle, Wittgenstein’s searing and illuminating diaries finally emerge in this first-ever English translation.
During the pandemic, Marjorie Perloff, one of our foremost scholars of global literature, found her mind ineluctably drawn to the profound commentary on life and death in the wartime diaries of eminent philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889–1951). Upon learning that these notebooks, which richly contextualize the early stages of his magnum opus, the Tractatus-Logico-Philosophicus, had never before been published in English, the Viennese-born Perloff determinedly set about translating them. Beginning with the anxious summer of 1914, this historic, en-face edition presents the first-person recollections of a foot soldier in the Austrian Army, fresh from his days as a philosophy student at Cambridge, who must grapple with the hazing of his fellow soldiers, the stirrings of a forbidden sexuality, and the formation of an explosive analytical philosophy that seemed to draw meaning from his endless brushes with death. Much like Tolstoy’s The Gospel in Brief, Private Notebooks takes us on a personal journey to discovery as it augments our knowledge of Wittgenstein himself.
About the Author
Marjorie Perloff teaches courses and writes on twentieth and now twenty-first century poetry and poetics, both Anglo-American and from a Comparatist perspective, as well as on intermedia and the visual arts. Her first three books dealt with individual poets--Yeats, Robert Lowell, and Frank O'Hara. She then published The Poetics of Indeterminacy: Rimbaud to Cage (1981), a book that has gone through a number of editions, and led to her extensive exploration of avant-garde art movements in The Futurist Moment:Avant-Garde, Avant-Guerre, and the Language of Rupture (1986, new edition, 1994), and subsequent books (13 in all). Wittgenstein's Ladder brought philosophy into the picture and Perloff has recently published her cultural memoir The Vienna Paradox (2004), which has been widely discussed. Her most recent book Differentials: Poetry,Poetics, Pedagogy won the Robert Penn Warren Prize for literary criticism in 2005 as well as Honorable Mention for the Robert Motherwell Prize of the Dedalus Foundation. She is a frequent reviewer for periodicals from TLS and The Washington Post to all the major scholarly journals, and has lectured at most major universities in the U.S. and at European, Asian, and Latin American universities and festivals. Perloff has held Guggenheim, NEH, and Huntington fellowships, served on the Advisory Board of theStanford Humanities Center, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is currently Scholar-in-Residence at theUniversity of Southern California. Perloff was the 2006 President of the Modern Language Association.