Richard Parmentier is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Brandeis University. His studies in semiotic anthropology Signs in Society and Signs and Society discuss the subject the context of its “twin peaks” of Charles Sanders Peirce and Ferdinand de Saussure. I discovered Parmentier’s Amazon Listmania! lists many years ago–I believe they were linked off of a Hans Blumenberg book–and they were responsible for introducing me to a number of works of great scholarship.

Unfortunately, Amazon subsequently discontinued its Listmania! feature and deleted all lists that had ever been posted. This still dismays me. The internet does not cater to intellectual content and Amazon had, in its way, managed to cultivate a disorganized but incredibly worthwhile amount of organic intellectual work.

I archived Parmentier’s lists before they were taken down, and he has kindly permitted me to repost them here. I encourage people to delve into the lists and discover something new.

I have retained Parmentier’s introductory notes at the beginning of each list.

David Auerbach

1. Really Important Books

I keep a special selection of books close-to-hand in my study, not because they contain information I need to refer to on a regular basis but because each embodies a particular mode of argumentation that I find useful to keep in mind (and difficult to remember in detail). In the (hypothetical) event of having to abandon ship, I hope I would have time to grab at least these volumes.

Death and Salvation in Ancient Egypt

Price: $100.00

7 used & new available from $100.00

Likeness and Presence: A History of the Image before the Era of Art

Price: $69.00

35 used & new available from $38.00

The Arcades Project

Price: $33.25

43 used & new available from $22.94

Society and the Holy in Late Antiquity

Price: $33.95

35 used & new available from $14.27

The Philosophy of the Enlightenment: Updated Edition

Price: $32.18

28 used & new available from $26.57

Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150-1750

Price: $25.80

25 used & new available from $19.98

The Masters of Truth in Archaic Greece

Price: $19.95

15 used & new available from $9.44

Archaeology of Knowledge (Routledge Classics)

Price: $24.95

18 used & new available from $13.92

The Mediation of Ornament

Price: $60.00

9 used & new available from

Marvelous Possessions: The Wonder of the New World

Price: $28.00

45 used & new available from $1.50

Language in Literature (Belknap Press)

Price: $19.35

12 used & new available from

The King's Two Bodies

Price: $34.99

19 used & new available from $17.97

On Representation

Price: $115.00

13 used & new available from $17.61

Freud y filosofía: Un ensayo de interpretación

Price: $46.76

14 used & new available from $16.49

The Implications of Literacy

Price: $76.89

34 used & new available from $29.95

Myth and Tragedy in Ancient Greece

Price: $4.86

21 used & new available from

The Art of Memory

Price: $30.00

34 used & new available from $14.23

Poetry as Performance: Homer and Beyond

Price: $47.99

31 used & new available from $32.70

The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere

Price: $32.62

13 used & new available from $23.30

Orientalism

Price: $15.00

25 used & new available from $10.22

ANALYZING BACH CANTATAS

Price: $82.99

23 used & new available from $69.99

Categories of Medieval Culture

Price: $27.04

11 used & new available from

Archaic Roman Religion

Price: $94.95

4 used & new available from

History of Madness

Price: $38.75

41 used & new available from $24.72


2. Great Short Books

When challenged to present a substantive yet succinct account of their subject matter in less than 150 pages, a number of scholars have written remarkable short books. Some of these books were originally lecture series and, thus, maximize the clarity of presentation. Others represent syntheses or summaries of larger works of scholarship. And, in some cases, authors have expanded what was basically an article-length work into a tidy monograph. I don’t include in this list books that collect independent articles.

The Individual and the Cosmos in Renaissance Philosophy

Price: $26.00

16 used & new available from $15.75

Art, Myth and Ritual: The Path to Political Authority in Ancient China

Price: $17.50

58 used & new available from $1.95

Darsan: Seeing the Divine Image in India

Price: $22.00

110 used & new available from $2.25

Art and Beauty in the Middle Ages

Price: $12.95

50 used & new available from $2.46

The Enigma of Piero: Piero Della Francesca

Price: $22.00

24 used & new available from $11.99

The Shape of Time: Remarks on the History of Things

Price: $20.00

35 used & new available from $10.00

Byzantium: Revised Edition (British Museum Paperbacks)

Price: $40.12

12 used & new available from $23.50

On the Medieval Origins of the Modern State (Princeton Classics (76))

Price: $28.53

21 used & new available from $4.34

Race Matters

Price: $6.02

27 used & new available from

Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes

Price: $31.04

59 used & new available from $9.63

The Many Faces of Realism (Paul Carus Lectures)

Price: $24.60

27 used & new available from $3.00

The Origins of Greek Thought

Price: $20.95

43 used & new available from $5.97

Six lecons sur le son et le sens (Arguments) (French Edition)

Price: $22.00

15 used & new available from $22.00

The Decipherment of Linear B (Canto)

Price: $38.46

35 used & new available from $2.41

Babylon, Memphis, Persepolis: Eastern Contexts of Greek Culture

Price: $23.50

26 used & new available from $14.06

The Old World and the New: 1492-1650 (Canto)

Price: $16.08

66 used & new available from $2.43

Mental Illness and Psychology

Price: $14.25

10 used & new available from

Metaphysical Song

Price: $12.49

51 used & new available from $3.99

The Rise of Universities (Foundations of Higher Education)

Price: $50.95

28 used & new available from $5.00

An Introduction to Legal Reasoning (Phoenix Books)

Price: $11.70

104 used & new available from $0.25

Gothic Architecture and Scholasticism

Price: $29.00

8 used & new available from


3. Big Books

Here are some big books in my collection that cover the topic without the constraint of space. There is some comfort in knowing that one will not need to read another book on a topic for quite a while.

Law, Sex, and Christian Society in Medieval Europe

Price: $75.00

50 used & new available from $24.51

The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400-1580

Price: $23.77

35 used & new available from $14.99

Frege: Philosophy of Language, Second Edition

Price: $54.00

19 used & new available from $43.41

Python

Price: $174.94

3 used & new available from

Hitler: 1936-1945 Nemesis

Price: $31.50

64 used & new available from $5.16

The Reformation: A History

Price: $20.30

51 used & new available from $6.41

After the Ice: A Global Human History, 20,000–5000 BC

Price: $27.45

43 used & new available from $15.96

The Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth-Century Spain

Price: $17.77

16 used & new available from

Stonehenge

Price: $39.07

38 used & new available from $15.60

A History of Medieval Spain (Cornell Paperbacks)

Price: $26.49

35 used & new available from $18.50

Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb

Price: $22.00

117 used & new available from $2.00

Family, Sex, and Marriage: 1500 To 1800 (Penguin History)

Price: $9.15

24 used & new available from

Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity

Price: $34.34

41 used & new available from $26.63

God’s War: A New History of the Crusades

Price: $31.52

37 used & new available from $9.44

How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics

Price: $53.00

32 used & new available from $42.29

Never at Rest: A Biography of Isaac Newton (Cambridge Paperback Library)

Price: $35.03

32 used & new available from $20.98

Malinowski: Odyssey of an Anthropologist, 1884–1920

Price: $24.90

26 used & new available from $9.97

Utopian Thought in the Western World (Belknap Press)

Price: $114.45

17 used & new available from $11.34

Science of Mechanics in the Middle Ages

Price: $70.00

9 used & new available from

The Mechanization of the World Picture: Pythagoras to Newton

Price: $82.90

12 used & new available from $29.97


4. Risky Books

Here are a group of books that take risks, either in advancing an original hypothesis, charting a new direction for research, or proposing an innovative methodology. Not everyone will agree with these authors, but readers will be struck by their creativity and daring and will be envious of their ability to take a path less traveled by.

Aztecs: An Interpretation

Price: $11.50

62 used & new available from $1.99

The Secret of the Incas: Myth, Astronomy, and the War Against Time

Price: $20.42

47 used & new available from $2.93

The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind

Price: $15.48

59 used & new available from $10.31

Composers at Work: The Craft of Musical Composition 1450-1600

Price: $50.69

14 used & new available from $35.10

Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made

Price: $22.00

43 used & new available from $9.39

Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe

Price: $18.95

93 used & new available from $2.09

Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life

Price: $62.41

20 used & new available from $4.87

The Making of Homeric Verse: The Collected Papers of Milman Parry

Price: $63.30

27 used & new available from $39.99

Galileo: Heretic

Price: $32.00

35 used & new available from $3.49

Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe

Price: $44.95

19 used & new available from $18.00

From Scythia to Camelot (Arthurian Characters and Themes)

Price: $47.95

19 used & new available from $42.00

The Elementary Structures of Kinship

Price: $43.00

31 used & new available from $20.97

The Conquest of America

Price: $18.59

41 used & new available from $14.59

Appendix: Richard Parmentier’s Books

I add these for convenience. –DBA

Signs and Society: Further Studies in Semiotic Anthropology

Price: $35.00

21 used & new available from $28.65