Cornelius Castoriadis, The Greek Imaginary: From Homer to Heraclitus, Seminars 1982-1983, translated by John Garner, María-Constanza Garrido Sierralta – Edinburgh University Press, 2023
Offers in English for the first time philosopher Cornelius Castoriadis’s earliest surviving lectures on the ancient Greeks
- Includes renowned scholar Pierre Vidal-Naquet’s essay, “’Castoriadis and Ancient Greece’” (1999), which provides an introduction and memorial to Castoriadis’s research
- Includes Castoriadis’s previously untranslated, substantive essay, “’Political Thought’” (1979), which presages many of the key themes in the seminars
- Includes Castoriadis’s thematic reports on his teaching in the 1980-1984 seminars
- Includes an “Editors’ Introduction” plus extensive editorial commentary on the seminars and an Analytic Table of Contents provided by the academic editor of the French edition of the volume (from 2004)
- Includes a “Foreword” by the translator, which highlights key terms in the seminars
This book collects 12 previously untranslated lectures by Castoriadis from 1982 to 1983. Castoriadis focuses on the interconnection between philosophy and democracy and the way both emerge within a self-critical imaginary already in development in the work of early Greek poets and Presocratic philosophers.
At 95 GBP ( that’s $170 AUD ) not exactly an affordable price point. Hanna Arendt and Politics, at 85 GBP. Seriously? One wonders whether these presses bother with hardbacks at all, and perhaps follow the likes of Verso who publish titles as ‘original paperbacks’…. that can actually be purchased without taking out a personal loan.
I hadn’t noticed the prices – I do often highlight when books are prohibitive, but missed these. I don’t disagree with you, but I expect that the press is not confident enough about sales to start with immediate paperbacks for these. But then these books will sell poorly because of the prohibitive price. I know this, to my cost, with EUP.
Verso work to a different model, which is great for readers, but they would likely turn down books where they were less confident about sales. That’s the same process with Polity, who also generally do paperback from the start.
Thanks Stuart. I sometimes get the impression that scholarly publishing, at least in the anglosphere of academies, which historically has been the domain of university presses, is in a very precarious state. I’m not privy to the business models they use but as an obsessive follower of new releases from these presses, retail prices are pretty much what they were 20 years ago, in some cases they’re more expensive. Hardcovers a case in point. Price has not come down. An unrepresentative few have told me they’re operating at a loss, never break even, and have been operating like this since forever. I subscribe to Antipode, and I’m hearing whispers that if wasn’t for Wiley at the helm they’d ditch the print copies altogether. Scholarly journals are also facing the same fate. It’s not a positive picture looking ahead is it? Would you agree?
Yes, I think there are serious pressures on publishing. One of the problems is that there are very few sales to students anymore. Publishers tell me this all the time. Even text books are suffering – and some institutions say anything the students must read has to be available online through the library. You can’t require a student to buy a text, especially when they are paying high tuition fees.
There are a lot of pirate versions of books up online, often very soon after publication. And if students have library access to e-copies it’s easy enough to make a pdf, even if pages are restricted. These constraints have really limited sales – libraries and academic sales don’t make many books break even. There is some cross-subsidy between high-sales books and low-sales, but lists as a whole have to be viable.
Yes, I think journals are increasingly going to be online only. I hope there is resistance to books going online only, but I can see some publishers going that way, and pressure for open access will feed that. I buy a lot of books, but I sense I am increasingly in the minority of academics who buy in this quantity.
Of course, given all this, publishers put the price up, or have hardback only or at least initially, to try to recoup some of the costs of publishing – which are not insignificant, but little goes to most authors. But because books are so expensive, sales are limited, and/or people look for cheaper alternatives, which creates further problems.