July 24 2013
Fred Newman’s and my 1993 book, Lev Vygotsky: Revolutionary Scientist, is now a classic! It’s been published by Psychology Press, and my copy arrived today in the mail. It felt good in my hands, and not just because it’s a better size and paper quality than the original. It felt good because it “is.”
To expand a bit on what I mean, here’s the opening paragraphs of the new introduction I wrote for the Clasic Editon.
It’s an honor and an irony to be the author of a “classic text” on Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky. Back in 1993 when our authors’ copies of Lev Vygotsky: Revolutionary Scientist arrived in our mailboxes, Fred Newman and I handled them with wonder. Intimately connected to the process and product of our labor—not only the thousands of words that comprised the pages of the book but also the two decades of creative grassroots community building work we and our colleagues had been doing—we nevertheless marveled that the prestigious academic publisher Routledge was the vehicle for sharing “our Vygotsky” with scholars and students. Both Newman and I had left the university (he in 1968 and me in 1997) and did our intellectual work in an independent, multi-disciplinary environment that was inseparable from community organizing activity. This location, we believed, had everything to do with what we saw/heard/felt in Vygotsky’s writings. We were exploring some of the same issues as other followers of Vygotsky, but we were also creating a new and different pathway as part of the exploration. We were sincerely moved that a few of our academically located colleagues believed that our reading and use of Vygotsky’s ideas was important enough to be written down and that they brought the idea to Routledge. Over the years, Newman and I would go back and forth, changing our minds many times on whether this was because of, or in spite of, our unique location. We will never know, but will always be grateful to those colleagues.
I write this introduction for the classic edition of Lev Vygotsky: Revolutionary Scientist without my co-author Fred Newman, who passed away in July 2011. It would have been all the richer had we been able to write this together. I miss his insight, provocations and humor. And I will miss—when copies of the new classic edition arrive in our mailboxes—marveling at its existence with him, just as we did 20 years ago.