Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Free Translation of Plato with Commentary

John Holbo and Belle Waring have produced a translation of Euthyphro, Meno, and Republic I, with extensive commentary and introductory material for students! And very pretty illustrations! The electronic version is free, and a paper version is coming out from Pearson Asia.

Here is the books official site. You can click on the preview above to get the page for the book from the self-publishing site ISSUU, or click here.

Since I teach basic Plato once or twice a year, this is a natural textbook for me to adopt. Recently I've just been doing the death of Socrates sequence, but I've done Meno and Republic as well, so this would be no problem to fit in.

But there's an on the other hand. Cathal Woods and Ryan Pack have published the death of Socrates sequence (with only the final scene of the Phaedo) under the Creative Commons License. Both books have free e-versions, are written and translated by people I have met once in real life, and basically fit my course plan. Which to choose?

My goal for all my classes is to use only texts that have free electronic versions and paper versions that are cheap. I haven't really decided on a line for "cheap" but right now I'm thinking no more than $25 non-recoverable costs overall (that is, the cost of the book minus the amount the student can reasonable expect to get reselling it). John and Belle aren't releasing their book under the Creative Commons license, but the book's website says that I can make a free e-version available to students as long as I also stock the paper version in the book store. I can't find a price for the paper version, and I doubt my students could get much in resale for it. I'm not even sure if the LCCC bookstore can order from Pearson Asia. The Woods and Pack book doesn't have a paper version at all, but with the liberal CC license I can just take it to Kinkos. So far, my experience has been that LCCC students prefer a paper copy, if they can afford it. But both Chrysler and GM are shutting plants down around here as a part of their bankruptcies, so everyone is trying to save money. And most of the technological literacy here is at the cell phone/text messaging level, not the "I read all my books in my Kindle" level.

Well, at the very least John's illustrations are gorgeous, and I'm looking forward to reading his Plato commentary while I decide what book to use.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hey rob, use mine MINE MINE!

No, seriously. I'll send an email containing some answers to your questions.

Thanks for the kind words about the illustrations.