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The New Science of Giambattista Vico: Unabridged Translation of the Third Edition (1744) Paperback – Unabridged, 1984
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"This new edition of the famous Bergin and Fisch translation of Vico's Scienza nuova, originally published in 1948 and reissued in a revised edition in 1968, includes a translation of a piece of Vico’s work called the Practica . . . . It is a great advantage to have [the “Practic of the New Science"] reprinted with the text of the New Science as it offers some of Vico’s views on the application of his science. . . . Cornell University Press is to be congratulated for . . . this new full edition.”―Review of Metaphysics
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This review is intended as a criticism, NOT of the Bergin and Fisch translation or of Vico's master work as a whole, but rather ONLY of the Penguin Edition of the New Science. It has come to my attention that my comments have been attached to BOTH the Penguin edition and the classic translation by Bergin and Fisch. This is an Amazon problem, and one that I would ask the reader to bear in mind. Thank you to commentators on this review for bringing this problem to my attention.
Professor Donald Phillip Verene, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Metaphysics and Moral Philosophy at Emory University, and Director of the Institute for Vico Studies has written a devastating review of the Penguin translation (by David Marsh) and its introduction (by Anthony Grafton), both or which are fraught with egregious errors. These errors betray an inattention to Vico's life and writing as a whole, as well as a near-total ignorance of the field of Vico studies which has blossomed in the 20th century. Although this edition is attractive on account of its price, it was an unnecessary endeavor (Isaiah Berlin hailed the Bergin and Fisch edition as exceptional, and a role model for translation practice in general), a botched effort that is likely to do more harm to Vico's reputation in the English-speaking world than good.
For those with a serious interest in Vico, the Penguin Edition of the New Science should be absolutely avoided. Instead, purchase ...Read more ›
If you have an interest in words and entomology, this is a book for you. Vico looks for the origin of civilization in the origin of words, and proposes theories that provoke thoughtful reflection. McLuhan used Vico to chart the future of civilization, as did Joyce.
It is impossible to sum-up this book in a few words, and it is difficult to explain why it is worth reading, but nonetheless, I recommend it to those of you who have stumbled upon it here. If you've gotten to this page, of the 800 million pages in cyberspace, then you are probably someone who should read Vico.
If you've never read Vico before, I highly recommend his autobiography, which contains a scholarly overview of Vico and his thought. It is a slimmer volume than this one, and could help you decide to read-on.
The structure Vico employs is unusual, don't let it throw you. It's written in numbered axioms and conclusions so he can refer to and connect ideas numerically for convenience. You see versions of Vico's ideas in movies today like I Am Legend, this book also was the basis for Joyce's Finnegan's Wake. As to how to approach the book, don't get bogged down in every detail/idea, some are just establishing facts as stepping stones so that he can prove larger things later in the big picture; the numbered ideas are not necessarily sequential but do connect together synthetically around a theme.
There is a definite ending (in the Conclusion) regarding the culmination of civilization which is what you want to get to, but without understanding how you got there it is significantly more hollow, so at least understand the trajectory of the earlier chapters first. To avoid getting bogged down or disoriented I would suggest doing the reading sequence listed on the St. John's College Grad Institute website. You can download the Graduate Reading List for History free. Remember to get to the end, otherwise you missed the big picture.
I give this Penguin edition only a 4 not because New Science is not itself a 5 or because the translation itself is weak, but because Vico requires copious notes. Most who read this work will do so on their own, and they need considerable help unless they are already as well read in the Classics and works of the Medieval and Renaissance eras as was Vico himself. Perhaps soon we will see an edition that meets that need, which also might encourage a few more to teach Vico, before we fall into the re-barbarism.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Giambattista Vico (1668-1744) was an Italian political philosopher, rhetorician, historian, and jurist, who also wrote The Autobiography of Giambattista Vico. Read morePublished on February 20, 2013 by Steven H Propp
Amazing. Over 250 years ago Vico laid the ground work for a huge amount of modern social/critical thought. Read morePublished on March 17, 2012 by jafrank
Vico's immense view and creativity is expressed at the outset with his Tableau of Civil Institutions: a graphical representation of his incredible work; this alone underscores the... Read morePublished on June 27, 2007 by M. McCombs
When I read Vico in a public space--subway, park bench, stoop--I always fear that someone will approach me and ask what his "general thing" is. Read morePublished on January 6, 2005 by WhatIAssume
That Vico is largely unknown, even by the so-called experts teaching in our universitiues, while mediocrities and worse of the past half century are lauded and taught widely is yet... Read morePublished on April 4, 2001