Correspondence1923 - 1966
Correspondence
1923 - 1966
Translated by Susan Reynolds, Michael Winkler

Theodor W. Adorno and Siegfried Kracauer were two of the most influential philosophers and cultural critics of the 20th century.  While Adorno became the leading intellectual figure of the Frankfurt School, Kracauer’s writings on film, photography, literature and the lifestyle of the middle classes opened up a new and distinctive approach to the study of culture and everyday life in modern societies.

This volume brings together for the first time the long-running correspondence between these two major figures of German intellectual culture.  As left-wing German Jews who were forced into exile with the rise of Nazism, Adorno and Kracauer shared much in common, but their worldviews were in many ways markedly different. These differences become clear in a correspondence that ranges over a great diversity of topics, from the nature of criticism and the meaning of utopia to the work of their contemporaries, including Bloch, Brecht and Benjamin. Where Kracauer embraced the study of new mass media, above all film, Adorno was much more sceptical. This is borne out in his sharp criticism of Kracauer’s study of the composer Offenbach, which Adorno derided as musically illiterate, as well as his later criticism of Kracauer’s <i>Theory of Film</i>. Exposing the very different ways that both men were grappling intellectually with the massive transformations of the 20th century, these letters shed fresh light on the principles shaping their work at the same time as they reveal something of the intellectual brilliance and human frailties of these two towering figures of 20th century thought. 

This unique volume will be of great value to anyone interested in critical theory and in 20th century intellectual and cultural history.
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  • November 2020
  • 450 pages
  • 152 x 229 mm / 6 x 9 in
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About the Author
Theodor W. Adorno (1903-1969), a prominent member of the Frankfurt School, was one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century in the areas of social theory, philosophy and aesthetics.

Siegfried Kracauer (1889-1966), also associated with the Frankfurt School, was a writer, cultural critic, sociologist and film theorist. 
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Reviews

"Spanning four decades and two continents, these letters are key documents in the annals of twentieth-century thought. Bound by an intimacy that abides even during phases of terse estrangement, Teddie and Friedel gossip about their encounters with the centurys literati at one moment ? and spar over questions of utopia and ideology, language and style, critique and theory at the next."
Johannes von Moltke, University of Michigan

"This remarkable correspondence documents one of the most important intellectual friendships of the twentieth century. The seemingly antinomic relationship between their modes of thoughtKracauers sounding of popular culture for societal truth versus Adornos insistence that high culture alone offered a refuge for  philosophical truthmade for pointed, and often barbed, exchanges of ideas. Yet the correspondence is much more than an abstract protocol; it is repeatedly illumined by lighting flashes emanating from the changing erotic and power relationships that determined the nature of the friendship."
Michael Jennings, Princeton University
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