Re: [xmca] review of Italian translation of Thinking and Speech

From: David Kellogg <vaughndogblack who-is-at>
Date: Thu May 29 2008 - 16:05:59 PDT

  I think what the review says about the Italian translation is simply wrong. Kozulin's (re-)translation into English is based on the 1934 edition, not the later editions.
  It's also quite contradictory and unconvincing in other ways. For example, it claims that Piaget was probably familiar with Vygotsky's work simply because Vygotsky had written a preface to his work. By that logic, Thorndike, Kohler, Koffka and a host of other psychologists must have been familiar with Vygotsky too.
  There's a language barrier here that we are still up against; as far as we know, Piaget did not read Russian well (I read somewhere that Piaget's copy of the 1934 edition of "Thinking and Speech" was apparently unread when he died). Yes, he corresponded with Luria and even received letters from Vygotsky, but they were probably in French. No English or French translation of "Thinking and Speech" existed.
  What is written about the Russian editor is very contradictory. On the one hand, we are told he was responsible for distortions of the text. How could we know, unless we had access to some ur-text BEFORE the 1934 edition? As far as I know, no such text exists.
  According to Levitin, he played a heroic role. Kolbanovsky was at first dispatched to dispatch Vygotsky and on meeting the man realized his genius and ensured publication of the work after his death, even though he probably knew the risks better than anyone else. After publication (which as we know contained some much more dangerous passages than simply references to pedology and testing) Kobalovsky disappeared. So how is it that he is now responsible for distortions?
  David Kellogg
  Seoul National University of Education

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