A very funny observation by John Holbo:
First, I happened to quote something from Hegel’s Philosophy of Mind whose cover reads in toto: “being part three of the Encyclopaedia of The Philosophical Sciences (1830) translated by William Wallace together with the Zusätze in Boumann’s text (1845) translated by A.V. Miller, with Foreword by J.N. Findlay, F.B.A.” There’s a bunch of scrollwork, too. I see that the latest cover omits the scrollwork and the information about Findlay’s degree. This is all fine. But suppose, hypothetically, you wanted to know the author – Hegel’s – name; that is, his initials and/or at least one given name; as opposed to the translator’s initials or the introducer’s degree? Well, presumably you would look inside. Where you would … not find it. Nowhere does this book tell you anything more about the author than that he was named … Hegel. He’s, like, the Sting of philosophy.
This reminds me of a story. Someone – can’t remember who – was complaining about someone else – can’t remember who – giving Hegel lectures and presuming to call the subject ‘Georg Hegel’, or even just ‘Georg’. Apparently even Hegel’s wife didn’t call him ‘Georg’. The story goes: she called him ‘Professor Hegel’. But I still think it would be ok to include his initials on a cover.
I have to admit I don’t think I would have been able to come up with Hegel’s given name to save my life. Very strange. The only other examples that come to mind of famous writers known only by a surname are pseudonyms like Voltaire. (Via Avva, who wonders if his wife called him “Professor Hegel” even in bed.)