1939 - 1969
Theodor W. Adorno and Gershom Scholem met in New York on the cusp of the 20th century’s descent into the Holocaust, whose consequences and chaotic aftermath they would relentlessly submit to the analytic scrutiny borne of their prolific correspondence. Appearing in English for the first time, this complete collection of their letters lays bare a friendship and intellectual partnership upon which the scars of modernity are writ large.
This volume is an extraordinary collaborative document not just because of the authors’ astute appraisal of the turbulent political times in which they lived but also because they grapple with the tensions sparked off by the unprecedented converging of Jewish mysticism and contemporary philosophy. Both humble but in fact able commentators on the specialisms of the other, in the course of their epistolary relationship Adorno and Scholem repeatedly demonstrate the enrichment potential of cross-disciplinary discussion. But what makes this volume particularly rewarding is that it documents the tender unfolding of a deep and enduring friendship between two of the greatest German-Jewish thinkers of the 20th century. As their 30-year correspondence attests, the nexus of their friendship was twofold: on the one hand, their respective friendships with Walter Benjamin, and on the other, their at times fraught belonging to the German-Jewish community.
This volume will be of great value to students and scholars of the Frankfurt School, Kabbalah and Jewish Studies and to anyone interested in 20th-century history and culture.