The Autobiography of Solomon Maimon: The Complete Translation
The first complete and annotated English translation of Maimon's influential and delightfully entertaining memoir
Solomon Maimon's autobiography has delighted readers for more than two hundred years, from Goethe, Schiller, and George Eliot to Walter Benjamin and Hannah Arendt. The American poet and critic Adam Kirsch has named it one of the most crucial Jewish books of modern times. Here is the first complete and annotated English edition of this enduring and lively work.
Born into a down-on-its-luck provincial Jewish family in 1753, Maimon quickly distinguished himself as a prodigy in learning. Even as a young child, he chafed at the constraints of his Talmudic education and rabbinical training. He recounts how he sought stimulation in the Hasidic community and among students of the Kabbalah--and offers rare and often wickedly funny accounts of both. After a series of picaresque misadventures, Maimon reached Berlin, where he became part of the city's famed Jewish Enlightenment and achieved the philosophical education he so desperately wanted, winning acclaim for being the sharpest of Kant's critics, as Kant himself described him.
This new edition restores text cut from the abridged 1888 translation by J. Clark Murray, which has long been the only available English edition. Paul Reitter's translation is brilliantly sensitive to the subtleties of Maimon's prose while providing a fluid rendering that contemporary readers will enjoy, and is accompanied by an introduction and notes by Yitzhak Melamed and Abraham Socher that give invaluable insights into Maimon and his extraordinary life. The book also features an afterword by Gideon Freudenthal that provides an authoritative overview of Maimon's contribution to modern philosophy.
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"This new translation of Maimon's pathbreaking autobiography is timely, and the editors and translator are exactly the right team to pull it off. It is a kind of Jewish picaresque, with Maimon playing the role of the rude barbarian who can't help but import his Talmudic sensibility into the philosophical debates of late eighteenth-century Germany."--David Biale, coauthor of Hasidism: A New History
"Reitter's translation captures the drive, energy, humor, and occasional irreverence of the original German, while annotations by Melamed and Socher supply the information readers need to read Maimon's autobiography with pleasure."--Jonathan M. Hess, author of Deborah and Her Sisters: How One Nineteenth-Century Melodrama and a Host of Celebrated Actresses Put Judaism on the World Stage
The collaborative product of four scholars, this impressive new edition makes available
Maimon's autobiography as he intended it be read.