Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Dan's Books

Dan showed us his impressive office in the Old Main building at Knox College last weekend. The fifth Lincoln-Douglas debate took place in front of the building in 1858. Now it's home to humanities offices and classrooms.

Dan said when he moved into the office, he inherited the entire Knox College philosophy library--the couple of shelves shown in the second picture from the top. If you look closely at those shelves you can see that they are clearly books from a collection assembled mostly in the 60s and 70s, like the books in the philosophy lounge at the University of Chicago, or the used books at Powell's. As Jay pointed out, having multiple copies of the Linguistic Turn is the clearest symptom of a collection from that era. Was there an upsurge of philosophy retirements in the 80s, or have professors stopped donating entire collections? Is there an impending wave of retirements that will bring small philosophy department libraries into the 80s and 90s?

I always look to see whether there are any noteworthy collisions of authors on people's shelves--thinkers whose work would normally never be taught together, or classified together in the Dewey decimal system, but who end up neighbors in a personal collection. I asked Dan if there were any such collisions that also expressed his interests. He pointed to the meeting of Varieties of Reference and Fanon's Black Skin, White Masks in the third picture above. I think the Du Bois-Truth and Other Enigmas combination on the same shelf is a close runner-up.

There were a lot of books on Dan's shelves that were obviously from Powell's. I asked him what his best used find was, and he pointed to the five volume Freud Collected Papers, which he got at the Newberry for $12.

Dan said that he's probably read the Investigations and Lester Bangs' Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung more times than any other books in the office. (You can see the Bangs book in the middle of the bottom shelf of the picture with the lamp, and the Investigations is clearly the center of attention on the Wittgenstein shelf in the second picture from the bottom.)

In the final picture, Dan shows off the color printing in §48 of his MacMillan edition of the Investigations.

When I asked Dan the question about what he's read the most, before he had a chance to reply, Jay, looking through Dan's books, pulled one out and said, "How about Jean-Luc Marion's Descartes' Metaphysical Prism?" Dan replied, "I've got it memorized".

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