Paul Chan, ed.
Word Book by Ludwig Wittgenstein
Translated by Bettina Funcke, with an introduction by Désirée Weber
In 1920, philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889–1951) abandoned his life and career at the University of Cambridge to teach poor children in rural Austria. During this period, he published only his second and last book in his lifetime: Wörterbuch für Volksschulen(or Dictionary for Elementary Schools). Word Book, published by Chan’s imprint Badlands Unlimited and featuring original illustrations by the artist, is the first and only English translation of Wörterbuch. It consists of words and concepts (5,968 terms in all) chosen by Wittgenstein as part of his curriculum. But it is also a revealing document of Wittgenstein’s own ideas changing as a result of teaching (and learning) from children, and a testament to how a mind is changed, if one is willing to let go of a certain idea of who one happens to be.