Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus: A New Translation (Hardcover)
"What I love about Searls's translation of the Tractatus is that it captures the literariness of the text. And so, one can better follow the nuanced movement and construction. This is not just another translation." —Percival Everett
Appearing a century after its first English-language publication, this newly translated edition of Wittgenstein’s masterpiece reveals a work of exceptional philosophical and literary genius.
More than a century after its composition, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus—Wittgenstein’s first masterwork, and the only book he published during his lifetime—endures as the definitive modern text on what logic can and cannot do. Since its first English-language publication in 1922, this profoundly enigmatic work has inspired philosophers and non-philosophers alike.
Consisting of 525 hierarchically numbered statements, each one “self-evident,” Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus is imbued, as translator Damion Searls writes, with the kind of cryptic grandeur and awe-inspiring opacity we might expect—might want—from such an iconic philosopher. Yet earlier translations, in their efforts to excessively copy German phrasing and syntax, range from stilted, even redolently Victorian, to downright impenetrable.
With this new translation and insightful introduction on the language of the book, Searls finally does justice to Wittgenstein’s masterpiece, capturing the fluid and forceful prose of the original without sacrificing any of its philosophical rigor. Indeed, in freeing the translation from the grip of the German language—revisiting, especially, the nouns and impersonal verbs that don’t convey in English the precision and intensity of the German—Searls renders Wittgenstein’s philosophy clearer and more accessible than ever before.
Featuring a preface by eminent Wittgenstein scholar Marjorie Perloff, this bilingual, facing-page edition promises to become the standard for generations to come.
Damion Searls is a prize-winning translator of fifty books from German, French, Norwegian, and Dutch. Liveright published his translation of Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet in 2020.
Born in Vienna, Austria, Marjorie Perloff is the Sadie Dernham Patek Professor Emerita of Humanities at Stanford University, and the author of sixteen books.
— Percival Everett