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Dictionary of Untranslatables:
A Philosophical Lexicon
Edited by Barbara Cassin
Translation edited by Emily Apter, Jacques Lezra & Michael Wood

Winner of a 2015 Outstanding Reference Sources Award, Reference and User Services Association, American Library Association
One of The Guardian’s Best Books of 2015, selected by Hari Kunzru
One of The Times Literary Supplement’s Books of the Year 2014, chosen by David Wootton
One of The Times Higher Education Supplement’s Books of the Year 2014, chosen by Robert S. C. Gordon
One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2014

Hardcover | 2014 | $65.00 / £48.95 | ISBN: 9780691138701
1344 pp. | 8 x 10
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eBook | ISBN: 9781400849918 |
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Reviews | Table of Contents
Preface pdf-icon | Introduction pdf-icon | Contributors pdf-icon

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NYU Humanities Initiative Panel Discussion Video

This is an encyclopedic dictionary of close to 400 important philosophical, literary, and political terms and concepts that defy easy--or any--translation from one language and culture to another. Drawn from more than a dozen languages, terms such as Dasein (German), pravda (Russian), saudade (Portuguese), and stato (Italian) are thoroughly examined in all their cross-linguistic and cross-cultural complexities. Spanning the classical, medieval, early modern, modern, and contemporary periods, these are terms that influence thinking across the humanities. The entries, written by more than 150 distinguished scholars, describe the origins and meanings of each term, the history and context of its usage, its translations into other languages, and its use in notable texts. The dictionary also includes essays on the special characteristics of particular languages--English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.

Originally published in French, this one-of-a-kind reference work is now available in English for the first time, with new contributions from Judith Butler, Daniel Heller-Roazen, Ben Kafka, Kevin McLaughlin, Kenneth Reinhard, Stella Sandford, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Jane Tylus, Anthony Vidler, Susan Wolfson, Robert J. C. Young, and many more.The result is an invaluable reference for students, scholars, and general readers interested in the multilingual lives of some of our most influential words and ideas.

  • Covers close to 400 important philosophical, literary, and political terms that defy easy translation between languages and cultures
  • Includes terms from more than a dozen languages
  • Entries written by more than 150 distinguished thinkers
  • Available in English for the first time, with new contributions by Judith Butler, Daniel Heller-Roazen, Ben Kafka, Kevin McLaughlin, Kenneth Reinhard, Stella Sandford, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Jane Tylus, Anthony Vidler, Susan Wolfson, Robert J. C. Young, and many more
  • Contains extensive cross-references and bibliographies
  • An invaluable resource for students and scholars across the humanities

Barbara Cassin is director of research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris. Emily Apter is professor of comparative literature and French at New York University. Jacques Lezra is professor of Spanish, Portuguese and comparative literature at NYU. Michael Wood is the Charles Barnwell Straut Class of 1923 Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Princeton University.

Review:

"[W]hat may be the weirdest book the twenty-first century has so far produced. . . . [T]his is a considerable and entertaining book, full of odd words beautifully, at times owlishly, annotated."--Adam Gopnik, New Yorker

"[An] extraordinary book. . . . Many of the entries are illuminating, but what is most fascinating about the book is its partial vision of a fragment of European culture, through the dissection of its philosophical vocabulary."--Tim Crane, Times Literary Supplement

"[A] cornucopia of lexical trajectories and semantic adventures across a wide variety of languages and histories. . . . As for the achievement of Emily Apter, Jacques Lezra and Michael Wood in orchestrating the English edition, that qualifies as heroic . . . this book is another valuable reminder that a philosophy that ignores its own history, that pretends to operate as if it had no history, is self-impoverishing."--Christopher Prendergast, London Review of Books

Praise for the French edition: "This dictionary's great idea is to address European philosophy from the point of view of translation. . . . [It] attains its goal by putting this principle to work: one cannot always translate a foreign concept in one word, but one can always explain it. And when one has grasped the explanation, one has acquired the concept."--Le Figaro Littéraire

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Table of Contents:

Preface vii
Introduction xvii
How to Use This Work xxi
Principal Collaborators xxiii
Contributors xxv
Translators xxxiii
Entries A to Z 1
Reference Tools 1269
Index 1275

Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by Emily Apter:

Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Michael Wood:

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