I've been hoping to get back to regular blogging for quite a while, and I think that I'll soon be able to do so. In the meantime, though, I wanted to say something about my current writing and translating.
When I left Philadelphia ten years ago, I had several ideas for book-length projects. Two in particular have stuck with me, and in the past couple of years I've taken the necessary first steps for getting them off the ground.
I used to teach classes on the Frankfurt School, always assigning to my students Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno's Dialectic of Enlightenment. I have long thought that I should write some sort of commentary geared towards students who are struggling their way through this extremely difficult, though important, philosophical work. Since I have a lot of experience with this book, it seemed to me that it wouldn't be too difficult for me to write a commentary on it.
Well, I eventually got myself organized, wrote a proposal, and sent it off to an interested editor. I'm happy to report that I now have a contract to write the proposed book.
While I was getting the first book project off the ground, I continued thinking about my next translation project. I had translated a lot of material by Johann Gottlieb Fichte and Moses Mendelssohn that finally appeared in two separate books in 2010 and 2011. Once the Mendelssohn book came out, I decided that I had had enough of the 18th century. It was time to move a little bit forward in my translation work, which only seemed natural, since I had already undertaken to write about a book that first appeared in the 1940s.
I prefer to translate material that has either never been translated before or has been so badly translated that a new translation is a necessity. I happen to admire Richard Wagner's operas, and so I started to toy with the possibility of re-translating some of his most important prose works.
I sketched out several possibilities, discussed them for quite a while with an interested editor, and drew up another book proposal. My ideas were well received, and so I signed a contract for another book, this time for a new translation of Richard Wagner's Opera and Drama.
The Horkheimer/Adorno commentary is tentatively entitled Dialectic of Enlightenment: A Reader's Guide. The Wagner book will just be called Opera and Drama. If all goes well, Opera and Drama will be the first in a series of new translations of Wagner's prose writings.
Fortunately for me, both of the books are under contract with Acumen Publishing, a British press for which I've done some work in the past. I've enjoyed dealing with them, and so I'm happy to have further opportunities to work with them.
These big changes in my writing and translating will be good for me, I think. If you look at my academic autobiography, you'll see that my efforts involving 18th century German philosophy never bought me an academic career. The work was worthwhile, of course, but the career never materialized. Consequently, it's nice, after twenty years, just to leave the 18th century behind. It's high time to do something else.
So that's the new plan for the next few years. Naturally, I'll blog about my progress on both books, which means that you should check back here from time to time if the topics are of interest to you.