SPIRITUALITY & RELIGION

The Autobiography of Solomon Maimon: The Complete Translation

Princeton Univ. Sept. 2018. 328p. ed. by Yitzhak Y. Melamed & Abraham Socher. tr. from German by Paul Reitter. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780691163857. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781400890446. BIOG
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Philosopher Maimon (1753–1800) is considered a Talmudic prodigy for his appreciation of Hebrew theological texts as well as one of Immanuel Kant's greatest readers and critics for his work in German as well as in Latin. Here, it is his autobiography that is so praiseworthy. Working from an original 1792–93 edition, editors Melamed and Socher, along with translator Reitter, wish to correct previous editions that suffered from intellectual paternalism, with translators omitting parts that (presumably) detracted from the integrity of his thought. This volume—a reading rather than critical edition—contains helpful footnotes and additional recommendations for secondary literature in English. Once referred to as a "linguistic shapeshifter, Maimon is a true autodidact, searcher, and thinker. Says he, "Not wanting to content myself with theory, I resolved to make practical use of my knowledge." His enigmatic persona shines in this engaging autobiography.
VERDICT A satisfying foray into an 18th-century philosopher's life.

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