[Update 9/4: we’ve learned that Stanford University Press has begun shipping advance copies of Prof. Cavell’s autobiography, so if you haven’t done so already, be sure to order your own copy today (click here to order a copy from Amazon.com)! Or, come to the Oct. 14 celebration of the publication of Little Did I Know, where the memoir will be available for purchase, and where Prof. Cavell will be present to sign copies. For more information about the Oct. 14 event, please click here.]
We wanted to let you know that a description of Stanley Cavell’s eagerly awaited autobiography — entitled Little Did I Know: Excerpts from Memory (to be released in August) — is now posted on Stanford University Press’ website. To visit the press’ webpage for the book, please click here.
Here is the publisher’s description:
This autobiography in the form of a philosophical diary narrates the events of a life that have produced the distinctive kind of writing associated with Stanley Cavell’s name. Cavell reflects on his journey from early childhood in Atlanta, through his musical studies at UC Berkeley and Julliard, to his subsequent veering off into philosophy at UCLA, his Ph.D. studies at Harvard, and his half century of teaching. While Cavell’s academic work has often incorporated autobiographical elements, Little Did I Know speaks to the American experience in general. It has much to say about the particularities of growing up in an immigrant family and offers glimpses of lesser known aspects of university life in the second half of the twentieth century. At the same time, Cavell’s interests and career have brought him into contact with a range of influential and unusual people. A number of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances figure prominently or in passing over the course of this book, occasioning engaging portraits. J.L. Austin, Ernest Bloch, Roger Sessions, Thomas Kuhn, Judith Shklar, John Rawls, Bernard Williams, Jean Renoir, W. V. O. Quine, Vicki Hearne, and Jacques Derrida are no longer with us; but Cavell also pays homage to the living: Michael Fried, John Harbison, Jay Cantor, Marc Shell, John Hollander, Hilary Putnam, Toril Moi, Jill Clayburgh, Arnaud Desplechin, and Terrence Malick. In keeping with Cavell’s philosophical style, the drift of the narrative registers the decisiveness of the relatively unknown and the purely accidental as well. Cavell has produced a trail of some eighteen published books that range from treatments of individual writers (Wittgenstein, Austin, Emerson, Thoreau, Heidegger, Shakespeare and Beckett) to studies in aesthetics, epistemology, moral and political philosophy, cinema, opera, and religion. Here he accounts for the discovery and scope of his intellectual passions and shares them with his readers.
And here are a few endorsements:
“Stanley Cavell’s Excerpts from Memory belongs alongside other great works of self-examination that are also indispensable explorations of the human condition, books such as the Essais of Montaigne and the journals of Cavell’s own beloved Emerson. Cavell’s work has always been about the complexity of human life, and his own experience has always been present in his philosophy. His memoir deepens our understanding of both his life and his philosophy It is a work of great particularity—Cavell’s own life from Depression-era Atlanta to late twentieth-century Harvard—but also a work of profound universality, a thoughtful man’s reflections on everything from fitting into his clothes and fitting into high school to finding friends, peers, love, personal calling, and social justice. This book is a treasure.”—Paul Guyer, University of Pennsylvania
“Widely acknowledged to be one of the most original thinkers in the United States, Stanley Cavell has always emphasized that autobiography is intrinsic to all interesting philosophical writing. Little Did I Know is more than a philosopher’s story of his life: it is itself a piece of philosophy.”—Espen Hammer, Temple University
“From its extraordinary beginning to its enlightened ending, this is a great work of literature of philosophy. Incomparable as well as peerless, Little Did I Know makes powerful contributions to psychology, to psychoanalysis, and to the art of writing, especially that of autobiography. It will contribute to how we understand the lives of philosophers and will be read with pleasure and utility for decades and centuries to come.”—Marc Shell, Harvard University