Monday, September 29, 2008

a book

I saw this blog post and almost let it tempt me to carp about the distortion that ideology can bring to the writing of history. Too often I encounter articles and whole books that are long on imagination and way too short on citations to primary sources, or even citations to good secondary ones. These histories don't usually contain too many PoMo terms with the exception of one that always makes my skin crawl: hermeneutics. It shows up in constructions such as Hermeneutics: "Analytical" and "Dialectical"; Hume, Hermeneutics, and History: A "Sympathetic" Account; Galileo and Spinoza: Heroes, Heretics, and Hermeneutics; and Erasmus and the Hermeneutics of Linguistic Praxis. I know the definition of the word, but I can't see that it's used as much more than BS in the stuff I read.

OK so I did carp a little, but my goal is to celebrate the generosity of some publishers. I've lately been struggling with a stage-setting segment of the thesis I'm drafting and wish to say something about the well-being of certain segments of the population of London in the middle of the seventeenth century. I found reviews of a book that looks like it contains information that would be helpful. It didn't seem so important that I should spend big bucks ordering a copy and then waiting for it to arrive. I couldn't look it over in Google Book Search since it hasn't showed up there yet. Amazon doesn't give snippets in its Search Inside service. I started looking to see what I'd have to pay for a used copy and, on doing an author/title search in Google was very pleasantly surprised to find that that the publisher, U of Calif Press, has made the whole thing available in a very nice format on the eScholarship site.

So ... I'm happily perusing the book, copying bits into my note-taking wiki (wikidpad), and making tactical decisions on how to make use of them in the draft.

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