Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid, NY: Basic Books, 1979.
[Also: GEB, 20th Anniversary Edition: With a New Preface by the
Author, NY: Basic Books, 1999.]
A multi-faceted examination of “how it is that animate
beings come out of inanimate matter,” GEB is also
a “metaphorical fugue on minds and machines in the spirit
of Lewis Carrol,” as its sub-subtitle indicates, as well
as a treasury of dialogs, puns, acrostics,
musical forms, mathematical incompleteness, strange loops, tangled
hierarchies, and self-reference.
Hofstadter’s explanation of the cover art:
A “GEB” and an “EGB” trip-let suspended
in space, casting their symbolic shadows on three planes that
meet at the corner of a room. (“Trip-let” is the
name which I have given to blocks shaped in such a way that
their shadows in three orthogonal directions are three different
letters. The trip-let idea came to me in a flash one evening
as I was trying to think how best to symbolize the unity of
Gödel, Escher, and Bach by somehow fusing their names in
a striking design. The two trip-lets shown on the cover were
designed and made by me, using mainly a band saw, with an end
mill for the holes; they are redwood, and are just under 4 inches
on a side.)
I: Fantasies and Reflections on Self and Soul.
(Edited by Hofstadter, with Daniel C. Dennett). NY:
Basic Books, 1981.
A collection of fiction, speculation, theory, philosophy, and
reflections by Jorge Luis Borges, Richard Dawkins, John Searle,
Robert Nozick, and the editors, on philosophy of mind, artificial
intelligence and cognitive science.
Metamagical Themas: Questing for the
Essence of Mind and Pattern. NY: Basic Books, 1985.
A collection of Hofstadter’s monthly columns for Scientific American
from 1981-1983, with additional commentary,
and previously unpublished dialogs and essays on the mind, the brain,
the Rubik’s Cube, the Prisoner’s Dilemma, etc. Begins
with a remarkable three-tiered (or tri-chunked, or drill-down) Table
of Contents, and doesn’t stop sparkling until well after its
marvelous half-page index entry for versus (including “free
will vs. free won’t,” “D. Hofstadter vs. D. Hofstadter,” and “truth vs. hokum”).
Ambigrammi: un microcosmo ideale per
lo studio della creatività.
Florence, Italy: Hopeful Monster, 1987.
An extensive dialogue (between Hofstadter and his elusive alter
ego Egbert B. Gebstadter)
and presentation of ambigrams, Hofstadter’s multi-level,
multi-valent form of calligraphy. Includes extensive discussion
of creation vs. discovery, models of thought, analogy, and letter
Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental
Mechanisms of Thought. (by Hofstadter, jointly with the Fluid Analogies Research
NY: Basic Books, 1995.
An “applied” approach to the principal topics of
Hofstadter’s previous works: includes reports on real-life
computer architectures and algorithms that attempt to model human
creativity and analogy-making.
The cover contains examples of Hofstadter’s “gridfonts,”
typographical experiments in style, letter forms, and machine
creativity (and the object of an artificial intelligence program
called “Letter Spirit”).
Le Ton beau de Marot: In Praise of the Music
NY: Basic Books, 1997.
extended rhapsody on poetry translation, formal textual systems,
language, constraints and creativity; an anthology of translations
of a single gem of a poem, Clément Marot’s “Ma
Mignonne”; and a heartbreaking, heartwarming love letter.
It may not be immediately obvious
without reading the book, but the title contains both an exquisite
multiple pun and multiple musical and personal references: the
pronunciation of “ton beau” (“beautiful tone”)
is identical to that of “tombeau” (“tomb”),
thus the title is also an homage to Maurice Ravel’s piano suite “Le
Tombeau de Couperin.” Both book and suite honor fallen loved ones (the
latter to Ravel’s friends lost in World War I, the former to Carol Hofstadter).
within the text are other lovely echoes of “ton beau”: for
example, as “tome beau” (“beautiful volume”)
and in the beautiful introductory dedication to Carol from “ton beau”
(“your beau”). Among the many, many treasures of this work, its lovely and meaning-full
title stands out.
For the Love of Line and Pattern: Studies
Inspired by Alphabets and Music.
Bloomington, IN: School of Fine Arts Gallery, Indiana University,
An exhibit catalog of Hofstadter’s “non-textual”
works (“non-textual” appearing in “scare quotes”
because even much of this visual work is text-based, or at least
alphabet-inspired). Includes ambigrams,
“Whirly Art” (such as may be seen on the cover of Metamagical
Themas — and which is, like the dialogues of GEB,
often some sort of re-incarnation of a particular musical form),“jazz
scribbles,” and “gridfonts,”
along with essays and notes about each form.
Eugene Onegin: A Novel in Verse
by Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin; A Novel Versification by Douglas
NY: Basic Books, 1999.
An effervescent, enthusiastic and delightful verse translation
of Pushkin’s great novel, recreating the spirit of wordplay
and formal constraints in the original. (Hofstadter also presents
a single stanza of the original, along with seven comparative
translations and a discussion, in his “Analogy
as the Core of Cognition” article.)
I Am a Strange Loop.
NY: Basic Books, 2007.
This book restates and updates the (often
misunderstood) principal thesis of GEB: that it is precisely “strange
loops” (patterns characterized by self-referentiality, self-representation,
level-crossing feedback, and other seemingly paradoxical phenomena) that give rise to —
and even more, constitute — consciousness and selfhood.
In some ways, I Am a Strange Loop is perhaps what GEB might have
turned out to be had its original working title remained: “Gödel’s
Theorem and the Human Brain.” This book’s more tightly focused “cognitive
science” message is still expressed with Hofstadter’s customary engaging
tone and entertaining form; even more than that, it is beautifully colored by his deep
engagements with love and loss over the nearly thirty years that have intervened since
the writing of GEB.
The Discovery of Dawn, by Walter Veltroni; translated by Douglas Hofstadter. NY: Rizzoli Ex Libris, 2008.
Hofstadter translated this novel at the request of its author Walter Veltroni, who was mayor of Rome from 2001 to 2008. Hofstadter includes a brief foreword telling the story of their meeting and of his work on the translation.
Originally titledLa Scoperta dell'Alba, the 2006 novel is a magical-realistic historical murder mystery set in the Italy of the present day, and that of 1977.
That Mad Ache, by Françoise Sagan; translated by Douglas Hofstadter.
Translator, Trader: An Essay on the Pleasantly Pervasive Paradoxes of Translation, by Douglas Hofstadter.
NY: Basic Books, 2009.
This double pleasure of a book consists of Hofstadter’s translation of Françoise Sagan’s 1965 novel La Chamade, and, on the flip-side, his extended essay on the art of translation, including both plain-English philosophical discussions and detailed descriptions of many of the concrete choices Hofstadter had to make as he translated this novel.
In opening the doors of both his mind and his “translator’s studio,” Hofstadter continues the longtime and personable conversations he began in Le Ton beau de Marot and his translation of Eugene Onegin. The subtitle of this essay speaks volumes — or at least half a volume! — about Hofstadter’s idea that translation is a complex act of negotiation, compromise, and style; the witty pun of its main title is a parlay against those many who profess the mistaken and counter-productive “translator, traitor” idea.
Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking,
by Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander. NY: Basic Books, 2013.
Published simultaneously with:
L'analogie : Coeur de la pensée,
by Douglas Hofstadter and Emmanuel Sander.
Paris: Odile Jacob, 2013.
This book — in both its instantiations — was co-authored with French professor of psychology Emmanuel Sander. (The book “has two originals — one in French and one in English. Each is a translation of the other, or perhaps neither of them is a translation.” p. x)
This is Hofstadter’s first book-length treatment — in much-expanded and richly-illustrated form — of the thesis of his Stanford Presidential Lecture, and the related article republished on this site: “Analogy as the Core of Cognition. ”
(More detailed annotation and excerpts to come!)
The Center for Research on Concepts and Cognition (a.k.a. FARG, the Fluid Analogies Research Group) at Indiana
University maintains a much more complete bibliography of
articles by Hofstadter and members of his research group.
Hofstadter, Douglas R. “Analogies and Metaphors to Explain
Gödel’s Theorem.” In Two-Year College Mathematics
Journal, Volume 13, No. 2, March 1982.
(Available online, to subscribers, in JSTOR.)
A very early practical essay about analogies as a teaching tool — which
certainly seems like a possible precursor to the “analogy
as core of cognition” idea.
Hofstadter, Douglas R. “The Copycat
Project: An Experiment in Nondeterminism and Creative Analogies.”
MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory Memo No. 755, January
(Available online from MIT.)
Hofstadter, Douglas R. and Melanie Mitchell. “The
Copycat Project: A Model of Mental Fluidity and Analogy-Making.”
In Keith Holyoak and John Barnden (eds.), Advances in Connectionist
and Neural Computation Theory Volume 2: Analogical Connections,
Norwood NJ: Ablex Publishing Corporation, 1994, pp. 31-112.
Marshall, J. and Douglas R. Hofstadter. “Beyond Copycat:
Incorporating Self-Watching into a Computer Model of High-Level
Perception and Analogy-Making.” In M. Gasser (ed.) Online
Proceedings of the 1996 Midwest Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive
(Available online here.)
A few articles, old and new, about AI programming efforts by
Hofstadter’s Fluid Analogies Research Group. One of the
first was called Copycat — “a stochastic
computer model of fluid concepts, high-level perception, and analogy-making.”
Metacat and Letter Spirit, are successors. Most
of these projects are covered in more detail, and more currently,
in Hofstadter and FARG’s Fluid Concepts and Creative
Analogies volume (see above).
Hofstadter, D. R., “Speechstuff
and thoughtstuff: Musings on the resonances created by words and
phrases via the subliminal perception of their buried parts.”
In Sture Allen (ed.), Of Thoughts and Words: The Relation between
Language and Mind. Proceedings of the Nobel Symposium 92,
London/New Jersey: World Scientific Publ., 1995, pp. 217-267.
A charming and insightful article on
language, linguistic “chunking” and
semantic “transparency,” treating both Sapir-Whorf
and folk hypotheses of comparative linguistics. This piece is
especially rich in Hofstadter’s trademark cognitive wordplay,
and includes such gems as “splitting the etym” (which
he attributes to his colleague David Moser), “greasy spoonerisms,” and
even “iced teaspoonerisms” — all of which are
much more apt, meaning-filled and slippery than one might think
at first glance.
Hofstadter, D. R., “On seeing A’s and seeing As.”
Stanford Humanities Review 4,2 (1995), pp. 109-121. (Available
online from Stanford.)
A discussion of several important AI research problems and projects:
Bongard problems, the Letter Spirit project and its gridfonts,
and others; also, an introduction to the important idea of “analogical
Hofstadter, Douglas R. “Mystery, Classicism, Elegance: an
Endless Chase after Magic. An essay in honor of Bruno Ernst, Hans
de Rijk, and Brother Erich — Escher’s deepest appreciators.” In
(ed.), Proceedings of the M. C. Escher Centennial Congress. Springer
Verlag, Inc., New York, 1999.
In addition to some interesting GEB history, Hofstadter
details here his strong reaction against the overly dismissive
notion of Escher as “a non-artist’s non-artist,”
and makes a plea to take Escher more seriously as a thinker and
Hofstadter, D. R. “Analogy
as the Core of Cognition.”
In The Analogical Mind: Perspectives from Cognitive Science,
Dedre Gentner, Keith J. Holyoak, and Boicho N. Kokinov (eds.).
MA: The MIT Press/Bradford Book, 2001, pp. 499-538.
was chosen to appear in The Best American Science
Writing 2000, James Gleick and Jesse Cohen (eds.), Ecco
Press, 2000. It is reprinted in full (by permission of MIT
Press) as part of this website.
Hofstadter, D. R. “Staring EMI Straight in the Eye — and
Doing My Best Not to Flinch.” In David Cope, Virtual Music:
Computer Synthesis of Musical Style, Cambridge, MA: The MIT
EMI is David Cope’s “Experiments in Musical Intelligence,”
a computer program that composes music which causes Hofstadter,
despite his deepest misgivings, to worry whether music —
“the ultimate inner sanctum of the human spirit, the last
thing that would tumble in AI’s headlong rush towards thought,
insight, and creativity” — may have met its match.
Hofstadter, Douglas R. “Moore’s Law, Artificial
Evolution, and the Fate of Humanity.” In L. Booker, S. Forrest,
et al. (eds.), Perspectives
on Adaptation in Natural and Artificial
Systems. New York: Oxford University Press,
An impassioned response to the
latest wave of futuristic predictions
machines” and the end of humanity as we know it. As in
the preceding article on EMI, and in the “Twentieth-anniversary
Preface” to GEB, Hofstadter here deals with Deep
Blue’s victory over Kasparov — and why he believes that although it has now come to pass, it lends little if
any support to the idea that just over the horizon, computers
will surpass humanity and will leave us in the dust.
Hofstadter, Douglas. “I Am a Strange Loop.” Seed 2:9 (March 2007), pp.68-72.
A brief statement of the essence of Hofstadter’s 2007 book, I Am a Strange Loop — and therefore of the essence of consciousness and inviduality.
Selection and Annotations by Glen Worthey
Stanford University Libraries