Monday, January 28, 2013

A Numbers Game

Today it occurred to me to wonder whether there is a translation of Fichte's Science of Knowledge newer than the one I bought years ago. Amazon says yes, and and lists a number of works by and about Fichte. Some, I found, had reviews, but not many: 4, 3, 2, 1 reviews for the first books on the first page of searches.

This did not seem many reviews, so I decided to have a look at some other sorts of book:
  • Popular history, searching on "Atkinson, Rick". An Army at Dawn had 208 reviews, The Day of Battle 175.
  • Less popular history: Gordon Craig's Germany 1866-1945 has 3 reviews.
  • Literary fiction, searching on "Franzen". 1,114 reviews of Freedom, 1,196 of The Corrections. On the other hand, Ann Patchett's State of Wonder has more than 3,000 reviews.
  • Programming. Martin Fowler's Refactoring had 88 reviews, Kernighan and Ritchie's The C Programming Language 348.
  • Poetry. Geoffrey Hill's New and Collected Poems has 3 reviews, his Selected Poems 6.
Not all  philosophy is as little reviewed as Fichte's (or Frege's). The 1977 translation of The Phenomenology of Spirit has more than 50 reviews, as does Allan Bloom's translation of The Republic. A recent translation of The Critique of Pure Reason has 98 reviews.

Evidently one must factor in publication date, for a book published long enough before Amazon's founding will get less traffic. The Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Fall of Prussia, 1640-1945 is for my money not nearly as readable as Craig's history, but it has 55 reviews. It might make an entertaining exercise for a snow day, to write a script to collect and correlate the information, but I don't expect there will be any snow days this season.

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