The surviving correspondence between Walter Benjamin and Theodor W. Adorno. This is the first time all of the surviving correspondence between Adorno and Benjamin has appeared in English. Provides a key to the personalities and projects of these two major intellectual figures. Offers a compelling insight into the cultural politics of the period, at a time of social and political upheaval. An invaluable resource for all students of the work of Adorno and especially of Benjamin, extensively annotated and cross-referenced.
"[In this volume] the reader witnesses the hesitant, tension-filled process by which two individuals come together – individuals who could scarcely have approached each other in any other way than through the mediation of this literary form." Jürgen Habermas, Die Zeit "The extraordinary and unique qualities of this correspondence stem from the confrontation in stages between two of the most intense and energetic minds of the last century." Fredric Jameson, Duke University "To reconsider the relationship between Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin is to reflect on one of the most enduring philosophical friendships of the twentieth century." Richard Wolin, New Republic "The first time the letters of these two great minds have been published in their entirety makes for endlessly crunchy reading that combines high-octane intellectual jousting with a touching arm’s-length friendship and, towards the end, a personal tragedy, as Benjamin’s situation gets inexorably worse. The sinewy dialogues on various topics – music, painting, poetry, Adorno’s theory of dialecticism, Benjamin’s aesthetics – throw up constant insights into how their major ideas were formed, as it were, out of live, fluid thinking." Steven Poole, The Guardian
Theodor W. Adorno (1903-1969) and Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) were prominent members of the Frankfurt School, and among the most influential thinkers of the twentieth century in the areas of social theory, philosophy, literary criticism and aesthetics.
The surviving correspondence between Walter Benjamin and Theodor W. Adorno, which appears here for the first time in its entirety in English translation, documents one of the most remarkable and intense intellectual relationships of modern times. In over a hundred letters, which range from brief and cordial exchanges to dense and detailed theoretical elucidations, it is now possible to trace the complex and developing character of Benjamin’s and Adorno’s attitudes to one another, and not least to many of their mutual friends, like Sholem, Bloch and Brecht. Both correspondents express their sharply formulated opinions in an extremely candid and vivid fashion. When this book appeared in German, it caused a sensation because it included passages previously excised in other versions of the letters – passages in which the two friends celebrate their own intimacy with frank remarks about other people. The animated discussion of central concepts in Benjamin’s work makes the letters an invaluable resource for all students of this complex and enigmatic figure. And, naturally, the letters reveal the correspondents’ hopes and fears, and often their illusions, in the context of rapidly unfolding political and social developments in a drastic period of modern history. The letters are extensively annotated and the subjects discussed are cross-referenced with the relevant passages in the complete editions of Benjamin’s and Adorno’s work.
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