I recently changed my ISP from Earthlink to Verizon. Because I had been with Earthlink for over twelve years, my Earthlink homepage contained a lot of material that I decided to move to my Typepad blog (which is where you are now, of course). But some of that mass of material was also out of date, and so I've been going through old files in order to decide what to keep and what to throw into the digital trashcan.
As I was revising my CV, I was reminded of my first academic publication, which was a review of the Reclam edition of Kant's Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics That Will Be Able to Come Forth as Science. The odd thing about my review was that I wrote it in German. Consequently, my first academic publication was in German, even though English is my native language. There's a little story behind how this happened, and I thought that you might enjoy reading it. So here it is.
When I was living and studying in Munich, I shared an apartment with a German political philosophy student who was also the co-editor of the HfP-Zeitung, which I guess you could call the once-a-semester student magazine of the Hochschule für Politik. (Or at least that's how I remember it. I apologize if I've misremembered.) He had a copy of Kant's Prolegomena for review, and since I too was a philosophy student, but one who specialized in German idealism, he asked me to write a short review.
Well, I'd never written much German prose, yet I figured that I could give it a go. By that stage of my graduate school career I'd read Kant's Prolegomena in English many times, of course, but I first had to read it in German to write the review. Now I was doing this slightly two hundred years after the publication of the book. So my job wasn't to say whether or not it was a good book. It was written by Kant in the 1780s, which means that it's of tremendous philosophical importance, regardless of what one thinks of it. So, instead, I wrote a few paragraphs trying to explain some of the basic ideas in clear, simple language. (Which wasn't all that hard to do, since my German prose was itself fairly simple.)
Naturally, my prose was imperfect, but my roommate was kind enough to correct my mistakes (which he had to do anyway, since he was co-editor of the magazine). My review was then published in the winter semester issue of the 89/90 academic year, and so there I was with a little piece in German that also happened to be my first academic publication.
My review covered slightly more than one page of the magazine. I've scanned the two pages and uploaded the images below. I erased another review that appeared at the bottom of the second page, just in case the author (my roommate the co-editor, in fact) doesn't wish it to be reprinted without his permission.
It was really not much more than a bit of fun, but it was a worthwhile exercise that no doubt contributed to improving my German, which, after all, was why I was studying in Germany in the first place.
If you would like to download the review as a single PDF (1.3 MB), then click on this link.