Call for Suggestions

After two years of work, my German reading continues to lag far behind my French. I am still far from the point where I can read a German text in a reasonable amount of time. Part of the difference is probably just intrinsic to the languages — I studied Spanish all four years in high school, so I am more familiar with the grammar and roots of Romance languages. (This is especially helpful for my purposes in reading French, given that English philosophical vocabulary most often uses Latin roots.)

As I survey the differences in my learning process, though, the thing that stands out most is that I produced a polished translation of a French text (available here) and have done nothing comparable with German. So now I’m pondering the possibility of working on a German translation once I’m finished with my coursework. I’ll be studying for exams, which seems like a more opportune time to do something like this than in the middle of writing the dissertation.

If I actually do it, I will likely post a high proportion of translation-related posts here, soliciting assistance or clarification. When I finished it, I would make the complete text available online, like I have with the Derrida translation. At this point, I am taking suggestions. For the sake of the advancement of human knowledge, as well as to keep me from cheating, I’d prefer to do something presently untranslated. An essay-length piece, of approximately 10,000-15,000 words, would be ideal, and a complete book is out of the question — i.e., you are not going to get a free translation of Schmitt’s Die Diktatur out of me. (Something that might have a chance of getting published would be a bonus — meaning preferably a free-standing essay rather than a selection from a longer work — but not required.)

20 thoughts on “Call for Suggestions

  1. I also welcome comments arguing that such a project would be unlikely to increase my reading fluency and would therefore be a waste of time.

    And since I’m adding stuff in comments, I should note that philosophical or theological works would be preferred, since that would help me master more relevant vocabulary.

  2. “Der Staat als Mechanismus bei Hobbes und Descartes,” Archiv fur Rechts- und Sozi- alphilosophie 30 (1936-37)is interesting for both philosophical and theological reasons.

  3. how about Schmitt’s first edition of Der Begriff des Politischen (1927) – according to Heinrich Meier’s study of Schmitt and Strauss that edition is philosophically very different from the standard 1932 version – which could also use a new translation – Schwab’s is a pretty inconsistent one.

  4. Something by Gunther Anders might be nice, for me at least. List of some of his articles is here. Course from what I read, you’d be doing the whole world a favor if you just went ahead and translated Die Antiquiertheit des Menschen. Surely you can find the time for that.

  5. I would go with a philosopher/theologian who works on material close to your own interests – nothing like seeing particular vocabulary over and over again to help it sink in. Secondly, I would translate something that ideally has more than one existing translation already available, so that after you have given it your best shot, you can see how others have solved the same problems. It’s a great way to assess your competence. It is also gratifying, as happens, when you see that someone else has botched something that you have understood well – not a rare event even with seasoned translators.

  6. In that case, Adam needs to find something else! (Schmitt’s works tend, on the whole, towards the long essay/pamphlet length.) While Adam resists (understandably) translating the entirety of Die Diktatur, translating a chapter or two might be a worthwhile project – Nomos of the Earth was published over time in Telos on a chapter by chapter basis before the entire translations were revised…

  7. Hey, this is a late comment, but consider Erik Peterson’s _Der Monotheismus als politisches Problem_ — it was an important rebuttal to Carl Schmitt that has never come out in English, as far as I can tell. Also, I think Agamben uses Peterson is his latest book (for whatever that’s worth). My Cliffnotes understanding is that Peterson makes an argument that the nature of the Trinity precludes any direct parallelism between secular and divine categories, thus making “political theology” in any literal sense non-sensical. (Sort of similar to Benjamin’s “politico-theological fragment” in that regard.) I think Peterson’s use of history has been criticized, but his general, overarching point seems to hold up and is very relevant.

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