[Humanist] 25.814 books that surprise

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Mar 14 09:15:38 CET 2012


                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 25, No. 814.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                       www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist
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  [1]   From:    Laval Hunsucker <amoinsde at yahoo.com>                      (29)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 25.808 books that surprise?

  [2]   From:    Laval Hunsucker <amoinsde at yahoo.com>                      (38)
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 25.808 books that surprise?


--[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2012 11:25:09 -0700 (PDT)
        From: Laval Hunsucker <amoinsde at yahoo.com>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 25.808 books that surprise?
        In-Reply-To: <20120312064155.18D91276E60 at woodward.joyent.us>

Willard wrote, _in re_ "books that surprise?" :

> I am compiling a list of books whose reception greatly
> outstripped the expectations of the authors
> . . .
> But the same can also be said of the following:
>
> The Kinsey Report (1948)
> C. P. Snow, The Two Cultures (1959)
> Thomas S. Kuhn, Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962)

Right. And at least Kuhn's surprise, and presumably the
outstripping of his expectation, seems to have consisted to a
considerable extent in his subsequent realization that his
message had been fundamentally misunderstood. He later
attempted to put this straight, but the genie, *not* all that
surprisingly, could no longer be got back into the bottle.

> . . .
> something very significant "in the air... [a] way of thought...
> so very present everywhere, though unperceived, that the
> spark caused by such a book was sufficient to touch off an
> explosion"

In Kuhn's case, this aspect would appear all the more significant
when we consider the faint reception accorded the book from
which he lifted ( without due acknowledgement ) much of what
he had to say -- Ludwik Fleck's _Entstehung und Entwicklung
einer wissenschaftlichen Tatsache : Einführung in die Lehre
vom Denkstil und Denkkollektiv_, which had come out already
twenty-seven years earlier.

- Laval Hunsucker
  Breukelen, Nederland



--[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Date: Tue, 13 Mar 2012 15:35:53 -0700 (PDT)
        From: Laval Hunsucker <amoinsde at yahoo.com>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 25.808 books that surprise?
        In-Reply-To: <20120312064155.18D91276E60 at woodward.joyent.us>

Willard wrote :

> The Kinsey Report (1948)
> C. P. Snow, The Two Cultures (1959)
> Thomas S. Kuhn, Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962)
>
> What others should be on my list?

As far as a publication's reception greatly outstripping the
( presumed ) expectations of the author is concerned, one that
quickly occurred to me was

Ferdinand de Saussure, _Cours de linguistique générale_ (1916)

but of course he's disqualified by your criteria, since he wasn't
around to be surprised and to see his expectations outstripped by
the ( eventual ) reception -- or even to see the thing published.

Something similar might be said about

Ludwig Wittgenstein, _Philosophische Untersuchungen /
Philosophical investigations_ (1953)

and perhaps something like

George Kingsley Zipf, _Human behavior and the principle of
least effort_ (1949).

But I wonder whether an appropriate addition to your list might
indeed be something like

Rachel Carson, _Silent spring_ (1962).

And would there be a place for things such as

Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels, _Das kommunistische Manifest_
  (1848)
Harriet Beecher Stowe, _Uncle Tom's cabin_ (1852)
Charles Darwin, _On the origin of species by means of natural
  selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for
  life_ (1859)
Karl Marx(/Friedrich Engels), _Das Kapital_ (1867-1894)
Sigmund Freud, _Die Traumdeutung_ (1900)
Herbert Simon, _Administrative behavior_ (1947)
Simone de Beauvoir, _Le deuxième sexe_ (1949)

These are all sort of off the cuff. Others will probably have more
pertinent suggestions.
 

- Laval Hunsucker
  Breukelen





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