The Unpredictable Workings of Culture
The Unpredictable Workings of Culture belongs to Juri Lotman’s late period. Previously published in Italian and Russian, this work is appearing now for the first time in English translation. The book’s general thematics link it to Lotman’s two other final monographs,Universe of the Mind and Culture and Explosion, already well-known to Anglophone readers. All three of these books are dedicated to questions that occupied this scholar and thinker during the last years of his life: first, the need for a common approach to natural, social, and spiritual phenomena; second, the problem of evolutionary and explosive processes in the history of culture; and, third, the question, closely linked to the previous two, of art as a workshop of unpredictability.
Lotman’s friends and colleagues—brilliant representatives of the Tartu-Moscow Semiotic School—point out the special style and tone of this work: “While I was reading the book, I had the sensation I was speaking with Lotman. I could hear his intonations; I could see his face turned toward me. I used to have the same feeling when I listened to his lectures. It seemed that he wasn’t speaking to us all at the same time but rather to each one of us individually” (Boris Uspensky). “This book is an outstanding example of Lotman’s style. Here Lotman expresses his most cherished thoughts with a clarity and in a form that make them accessible to a wide audience, offering rare and fascinating examples to illustrate his points” (Vyacheslav Ivanov).