Aberrations of Mourning
Laurence A. Rickels University of Minnesota Press, 2011 Library of Congress PT129.R47 2011 | Dewey Decimal 830.9353
Aberrations of Mourning, originally published in 1988, is the long unavailable first book in Laurence A. Rickels’s “unmourning” trilogy, followed by The Case of California and Nazi Psychoanalysis.
Rickels studies mourning and melancholia within and around psychoanalysis, analyzing the writings of such thinkers as Freud, Nietzsche, Lessing, Heinse, Artaud, Keller, Stifter, Kafka, and Kraus. Rickels maintains that we must shift the way we read literature, philosophy, and psychoanalysis to go beyond traditional Oedipal structures.
Aberrations of Mourning argues that the idea of the crypt has had a surprisingly potent influence on psychoanalysis, and Rickels shows how society’s disturbed relationship with death and dying, our inability to let go of loved ones, has resulted in technology to form more and more crypts for the dead by preserving them—both physically and psychologically—in new ways.
Berlin Childhood around 1900
Walter Benjamin Harvard University Press, 2006 Library of Congress PT2603.E455Z4613 2006 | Dewey Decimal 838.91209
Begun in Poveromo, Italy, in 1932, and extensively revised in 1938, Berlin Childhood around 1900 remained unpublished during Walter Benjamin's lifetime, one of his "large-scale defeats." Now translated into English for the first time in book form, on the basis of the recently discovered "final version" that contains the author's own arrangement of a suite of luminous vignettes, it can be more widely appreciated as one of the masterpieces of twentieth-century prose writing.
Not an autobiography in the customary sense, Benjamin's recollection of his childhood in an upper-middle-class Jewish home in Berlin's West End at the turn of the century becomes an occasion for unified "expeditions into the depths of memory." In this diagram of his life, Benjamin focuses not on persons or events but on places and things, all seen from the perspective of a child--a collector, flaneur, and allegorist in one.
This book is also one of Benjamin's great city texts, bringing to life the cocoon of his childhood--the parks, streets, schoolrooms, and interiors of an emerging metropolis. It reads the city as palimpsest and labyrinth, revealing unexpected lyricism in the heart of the familiar.
As an added gem, a preface by Howard Eiland discusses the genesis and structure of the work, which marks the culmination of Benjamin's attempt to do philosophy concretely.
Brecht in L.A.
Rick Mitchell Intellect Books, 1995 Library of Congress PS3613.I863B74 2003 | Dewey Decimal 833.912
Bertolt Brecht, perhaps the most important dramatist/director/theorist of the twentieth century, is still widely studied and his plays and theories remain staples in the curricula of university theatre departments, literature departments, and theatre-artist training programs throughout the world. Additionally, productions of Brecht's dramas continue to be popular. The play Brecht in L.A. focuses on Brecht's life in America, where he resided from 1941 through 1947.
Additionally, Brecht in L.A., winner of the 2002 SWTA National New Play Contest (US), is already a critically acclaimed play, which suggests that the work has the potential to be widely (and successfully) produced. And such productions will enhance the marketability of the book. A play influenced by Brecht is, in itself, not unique, since many leading, contemporary dramatists--such as Caryl Churchill, Edward Bond, Tony Kushner, Heiner Muller, and Howard Barker--have been affected by Brechtian dramaturgy. But a Brechtian-influenced play with Brecht as the lead character is unique. The play represents the only dramatic work in English which features Brecht himself as the title character.
Brecht in L.A., centering on Brecht while adapting/critiquing Brechtian dramatic form, also provides a unique opportunity for the instructor who is teaching Brechtian theatre since--with just one text (which will includes endnotes and appendices)--the instructor can cover epic theatre, the "Brecht debate," Brecht's biography, and contradictions between Brecht's theatrical practices and his everyday life.
The book's wide-ranging audience will include theatre artists; playgoers; students of drama, theatre, English, and performance studies; scholars; and readers interested in Brecht, Hollywood, and/or biography. Brecht in L.A. will also be an important addition to the considerable collections of books about Brecht which are carried by countless libraries.
The correspondence between Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno, which appears here for the first time in its entirety in English translation, must rank among the most significant to have come down to us from that notable age of barbarism, the twentieth century. Benjamin and Adorno formed a uniquely powerful pair. Benjamin, riddle-like in his personality and given to tactical evasion, and Adorno, full of his own importance, alternately support and compete with each other throughout the correspondence, until its imminent tragic end becomes apparent to both writers. Each had met his match, and happily, in the other. This book is the story of an elective affinity. Adorno was the only person who managed to sustain an intimate intellectual relationship with Benjamin for nearly twenty years. No one else, not even Gershom Scholem, coaxed so much out of Benjamin.
The more than one hundred letters in this book will allow readers to trace the developing character of Benjamin's and Adorno's attitudes toward each other and toward their many friends. When this book appeared in German, it caused a sensation because it includes passages previously excised from other German editions of the letters--passages in which the two friends celebrate their own intimacy with frank remarks about other people. Ideas presented elliptically in the theoretical writings are set forth here with much greater clarity. Not least, the letters provide material crucial for understanding the genesis of Benjamin's Arcades Project.
Called “the most important critic of his time” by Hannah Arendt, Walter Benjamin has only become more influential over the years, as his work has assumed a crucial place in current debates over the interactions of art, culture, and meaning. A “natural and extraordinary talent for letter writing was one of the most captivating facets of his nature,” writes Gershom Scholem in his Foreword to this volume; and Benjamin's correspondence reveals the evolution of some of his most powerful ideas, while also offering an intimate picture of Benjamin himself and the times in which he lived.
Writing at length to Scholem and Theodor Adorno, and exchanging letters with Rainer Maria Rilke, Hannah Arendt, Max Brod, and Bertolt Brecht, Benjamin elaborates on his ideas about metaphor and language. He reflects on literary figures from Kafka to Karl Kraus, and expounds his personal attitudes toward such subjects as Marxism and French national character. Providing an indispensable tool for any scholar wrestling with Benjamin’s work, The Correspondence of Walter Benjamin, 1910–1940 is a revelatory look at the man behind much of the twentieth century’s most significant criticism.
The legendary correspondence between the critic Walter Benjamin and the historian Gershom Scholem bears indispensable witness to the inner lives of two remarkable and enigmatic personalities. Benjamin, acknowledged today as on of the leading literary and social critics of his day, was known during his lifetime by only a small circle of friends and intellectual confreres. Scholem recognized the genius of his friend and mentor during their student days in Berlin, and the two began to correspond after Scholem’s emigration to Palestine. Their impassioned exchange draws the reader into the very heart of their complex relationship during the anguished years from 1932 until Benjamin’s death in 1940.
In 1908, Rainer Maria Rilke wrote "Requiem for a Friend" in memory of Paula Modersohn-Becker, the German painter who had profoundly affected him and who had died a year earlier. Although a great modern painter, Modersohn-Becker is remembered primarily as she is portrayed in Rilke's poem. Dear Friend looks at the relationship of two great artists whose often-strained friendship was extraordinary for both.
For most of his life, Ernst Jünger, one of Europe's leading twentieth-century writers, has been controversial. Renowned as a soldier who wrote of his experience in the First World War, he has maintained a remarkable writing career that has spanned five periods of modern German history. In this first comprehensive study of Jünger in English, Thomas R. Nevin focuses on the writer’s first fifty years, from the late Wilhelmine era of the Kaiser to the end of Hitler’s Third Reich. By addressing the controversies and contradictions of Jünger, a man who has been extolled, despised, denounced, and admired throughout his lifetime, Ernst Jünger and Germany also opens an uncommon view on the nation that is, if uncomfortably, represented by him. Ernst Jünger is in many ways Germany’s conscience, and much of the controversy surrounding him is at its source measured by his relation to the Nazis and Nazi culture. But as Nevin suggests, Jünger can more specifically and properly be regarded as the still living conscience of a Germany that existed before Hitler. Although his memoir of service as a highly decorated lieutenant in World War I made him a hero to the Nazis, he refused to join the party. A severe critic of the Weimar Republic, he has often been denounced as a fascist who prepared the way for the Reich, but in 1939 he published a parable attacking despotism. Close to the men who plotted Hitler’s assassination in 1944, he narrowly escaped prosecution and death. Drawing largely on Jünger’s untranslated work, much of which has never been reprinted in Germany, Nevin reveals Jünger’s profound ambiguities and examines both his participation in and resistance to authoritarianism and the cult of technology in the contexts of his Wilhelmine upbringing, the chaos of Weimar, and the sinister culture of Nazism. Winner of Germany’s highest literary awards, Ernst Jünger is regularly disparaged in the German press. His writings, as this book indicates, put him at an unimpeachable remove from the Nazis, but neo-Nazi rightists in Germany have rushed to embrace him. Neither apology, whitewash, nor vilification, Ernst Jünger and Germany is an assessment of the complex evolution of a man whose work and nature has been viewed as both inspiration and threat.
“Stunning. . . . Read this book: in equal measure it will give you hope and trouble your dreams.”—Laura Dassow Walls, author of Henry David Thoreau: A Life and Passage to Cosmos: Alexander von Humboldt’s Shaping of America
Georg Forster (1754–94) was in many ways self-taught and rarely had two cents to rub together, but he became one of the most dynamic figures of the Enlightenment: a brilliant writer, naturalist, explorer, illustrator, translator—and a revolutionary. Granted the extraordinary opportunity to sail around the world as part of Captain James Cook’s fabled crew, Forster touched icebergs, walked the beaches of Tahiti, visited far-flung foreign nations, lived with purported cannibals, and crossed oceans and the equator. Forster recounted the journey in his 1777 book A Voyage Round the World, a work of travel and science that not only established Forster as one of the most accomplished stylists of the time—and led some to credit him as the inventor of the literary travel narrative—but also influenced other German trailblazers of scientific and literary writing, most notably Alexander von Humboldt. A superb essayist, Forster made lasting contributions to our scientific—and especially botanical and ornithological—knowledge of the South Seas.
Having witnessed more egalitarian societies in the southern hemisphere, Forster returned after more than three years at sea to a monarchist Europe entering the era of revolution. When, following the French Revolution of 1789, French forces occupied the German city of Mainz, Forster became a leading political actor in the founding of the Republic of Mainz—the first democratic state on German soil.
In an age of Kantian reason, Forster privileged experience. He claimed a deep connection between nature and reason, nature and politics, nature and revolution. His politics was radical in its understanding of revolution as a natural phenomenon, and in this often overlooked way his many facets—as voyager, naturalist, and revolutionary—were intertwined.
Yet, in the constellation of the Enlightenment’s trailblazing naturalists, scientists, political thinkers, and writers, Forster’s star remains relatively dim today: the Republic of Mainz was crushed, and Forster died in exile in Paris. This book is the source of illumination that Forster’s journey so greatly deserves. Tracing the arc of this unheralded polymath’s short life, Georg Forster explores both his contributions to literature and science and the enduring relationship between nature and politics that threaded through his extraordinary four decades.
Julian Preece Reaktion Books, 2018 Library of Congress PT2613.R338Z7738 2018 | Dewey Decimal 838.91409
Günter Grass was Germany’s foremost writer for more than half a century, and his books were and remain best-sellers across the world. TheTin Drum was made into an Oscar-winning film in 1979, and the memoir Peeling the Onion astounded readers by revealing Grass had been drafted into the military wing of the SS, a ruthless component of the Nazi war machine, in the closing months of World War II. Grass also wrote memorably about the German student movement, feminism, and German reunification, and was a key influence on magical realist authors such as Gabriel García Márquez and Salman Rushdie, as well as on the popular novelist John Irving.
Günter Grass is the first biography in English of this Nobel Prize–winning writer. Julian Preece introduces both Grass’s key works and political activities, chronicling his interaction with major figures from literary and public life like holocaust poet Paul Celan, Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and cofounder of the Red Army Faction Ulrike Meinhof. From Grass’s campaigning as a citizen for the anti-Nazi resistor and Social Democrat leader Willy Brandt to his more recent invectives against free-market capitalism, Preece places Grass’s fiction and public work in the context of Cold War European politics and post-unification Germany, painting an indelible portrait of a writer who reinvented the postwar German novel and redefined the role of literary commitment.
A deftly crafted biography of the author of Siddhartha, whose critique of consumer culture continues to inspire millions of readers.
Against the horrors of Nazi dictatorship and widespread disillusionment with the forces of mass culture and consumerism, Hermann Hesse’s stories inspired nonconformity and a yearning for universal values. Few today would doubt Hesse’s artistry or his importance to millions of devoted readers. But just who was the author of Siddhartha, Steppenwolf, and Demian?
Gunnar Decker weaves together previously unavailable sources to offer a unique interpretation of the life and work of Hermann Hesse. Drawing on recently discovered correspondence between Hesse and his psychoanalyst Josef Lang, Decker shows how Hesse reversed the traditional roles of therapist and client, and rethinks the relationship between Hesse’s novels and Jungian psychoanalysis. He also explores Hesse’s correspondence with Stefan Zweig—recently unearthed—to find the source of Hesse’s profound sense of alienation from his contemporaries.
Decker’s biography brings to life this icon of spiritual searching and disenchantment who galvanized the counterculture in the 1960s and feels newly relevant today.
Frank and refreshing, Brigitte Reimann’s collected diaries provide a candid account of life in socialist Germany.
With an upbeat tempo and amusing tone, I Have No Regrets contains detailed accounts of the author’s love affairs, daily life, writing, and reflections. Like the heroines in her stories, Reimann was impetuous and outspoken, addressing issues and sensibilities otherwise repressed in the era of the German Democratic Republic. She followed the state’s call for artists to leave their ivory towers and engage with the people, moving to the new town of Hoyerswerda to work part-time at a nearby industrial plant and run writing classes for the workers. Her diaries and letters provide a fascinating parallel to her fictional writing. By turns shocking, passionate, unflinching, and bitter—but above all life-affirming—they offer an unparalleled insight into what life was like during the first decades of the GDR.
Thomas Mann’s two eldest children, Erika and Klaus, were unconventional, rebellious, and fiercely devoted to each other. Empowered by their close bond, they espoused vehemently anti-Nazi views in a Europe swept up in fascism and were openly, even defiantly, gay in an age of secrecy and repression. Although their father’s fame has unfairly overshadowed their legacy, Erika and Klaus were serious authors, performance artists before the medium existed, and political visionaries whose searing essays and lectures are still relevant today. And, as Andrea Weiss reveals in this dual biography, their story offers a fascinating view of the literary and intellectual life, political turmoil, and shifting sexual mores of their times. In the Shadow of the Magic Mountain begins with an account of the make-believe world the Manns created together as children—an early sign of their talents as well as the intensity of their relationship. Weiss documents the lifelong artistic collaboration that followed, showing how, as the Nazis took power, Erika and Klaus infused their work with a shared sense of political commitment. Their views earned them exile, and after escaping Germany they eventually moved to the United States, where both served as members of the U.S. armed forces. Abroad, they enjoyed a wide circle of famous friends, including Andre Gide, Christopher Isherwood, Jean Cocteau, and W. H. Auden, whom Erika married in 1935. But the demands of life in exile, Klaus’s heroin addiction, and Erika’s new allegiance to their father strained their mutual devotion, and in 1949 Klaus committed suicide.
Beautiful never-before-seen photographs illustrate Weiss’s riveting tale of two brave nonconformists whose dramatic lives open up new perspectives on the history of the twentieth century.
This new critical biography provides a complete picture of German novelist, playwright, and poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Offering fresh, thought-provoking interpretations of all Goethe’s major works, including novels such as The Sorrows of Young Werther and The Elective Affinities, plays such as Egmont and Iphigenia in Tauris, and Goethe’s greatest work, Faust, Jeremy Adler also provides many original readings of Goethe’s poetry, beginning with the poems written in his early youth. Alongside Goethe’s work, Adler analyzes the incidents of his life, including his love affairs and his meetings with the luminaries of his age, such as Napoleon Bonaparte. Uniquely, Adler also shows how Goethe’s encyclopedic interest in literature, science, philosophy, law, and many other fields became important for a wide range of later scientists and thinkers. Among the figures he influenced were Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein, Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud, Émile Durkheim and Susan Sontag. Goethe has often been called the last Renaissance man. This biography shows that Goethe was in fact the first of the moderns—a maker of modernity.
Siegfried Kracauer was a leading figure on the Weimar arts scene and one of the foremost representatives of the Frankfurt School of critical theory. Best known for a wealth of writings on sociology and film theory, his influence is felt in the work of many of the period’s preeminent thinkers, including the critic Theodor W. Adorno, who once claimed he owed more to Kracauer than any other intellectual.
Kracauer.Photographic Archive, a companion volume to The Past’s Threshold: Essays on Photography, collects previously unpublished photographs by Siegfried and Elisabeth, “Lili,” Kracauer. With its remarkably rich material, the book tells the story of the Kracauer’s close working relationship, from their marriage in Germany to their escape to Paris and the war and postwar years in the United States. While neither Kracauer nor his wife trained in photography, their portraits, city views, and landscapes evince impressive aesthetic and technical skill, while simultaneously shedding light on their lives marked by exile and flight.
Letters of a Dead Man
Prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau Harvard University Press Library of Congress PT2449.P7Z48 2016 | Dewey Decimal 838.709
In 1826, the prince of Pückler-Muskau embarked on a tour of England, Wales, and Ireland. Although captivated by all things British, his initial objective was to find a wealthy bride. He and his wife Lucie, having expended every resource on a plan to transform their estate into a vast landscape park, agreed to an amicable divorce, freeing him to forge an advantageous alliance that could rescue their project. For over two years, Pückler’s letters home conveyed a vivid, often quirky, and highly entertaining account of his travels. From the metropolis of London, he toured the mines and factories of the Industrial Revolution and visited the grand estates and spectacular art collections maintained by its beneficiaries. He encountered the scourge of rural and urban poverty and found common cause with the oppressed Irish. With his gift for description, Pückler evokes the spectacular landscapes of Wales, the perils of transportation, and the gentle respite of manor houses and country inns. Part memoir, part travelogue and political commentary, part epistolary novel, Pückler’s rhetorical flare and acute observations provoked the German poet Heinrich Heine to characterize him as the “most fashionable of eccentric men—Diogenes on horseback.”
Rainer Maria Rilke (1875–1926) was an avid letter writer, and more than seven thousand of his letters have survived. The best-known collection today is Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, first published in 1929. Two other letter collections appeared around the same time and gained high acclaim among readers yet are virtually unknown today. They are Letters to a Young Woman (1930) and Letters on God (1933).
With this volume, Annemarie S. Kidder makes available to an English-speaking audience two of the earliest collections of Rilke letters published after his death. The thematic collection On God— here published in English for the first time—contains two letters by Rilke, the first an actual letter written during World War I, in 1915 in Munich, the second a fictional one composed after the war, in 1922 at Muzot, in Switzerland. In these letters, Rilke builds on the mystical view of God conceived of in The Book of Hours, but he moves beyond it, demonstrating a unique vision of God and Christ, the church and religious experience, friendship and death. The collection Letters to a Young Woman comprises nine of Rilke’s letters, written to a young admirer, Lisa Heise, over the course of five years, from 1919 to 1924. Though Rilke and Heise never met, Rilke emerges in these letters as the compassionate listener and patient teacher who with level-headed sensitivity affirms and guides the movements of another person’s soul.
Letters to a Young Poet
Rainer Maria Rilke Harvard University Press, 2011 Library of Congress PT2635.I65Z488 2011 | Dewey Decimal 831.912
In 1902, a nineteen-year-old aspiring poet named Franz Kappus wrote to Rilke, then twenty-six, seeking advice on his poetry. Kappus, a student at a military academy in Vienna similar to the one Rilke had attended, was about to embark on a career as an officer, for which he had little inclination. Touched by the innocence and forthrightness of the student, Rilke responded to Kappus’ letter and began an intermittent correspondence that would last until 1908.
Letters to a Young Poet collects the ten letters that Rilke wrote to Kappus. A book often encountered in adolescence, it speaks directly to the young. Rilke offers unguarded thoughts on such diverse subjects as creativity, solitude, self-reliance, living with uncertainty, the shallowness of irony, the uselessness of criticism, career choices, sex, love, God, and art. Letters to a Young Poet is, finally, a life manual. Art, Rilke tells the young poet in his final letter to him, is only another way of living.
With the same artistry that marks his widely acclaimed translations of Kafka’s The Castle and Amerika: The Missing Person, Mark Harman captures the lyrical and spiritual dimensions of Rilke’s prose. In his introduction, he provides biographical contexts for the reader and discusses the challenges of translating Rilke. This lovely hardcover edition makes a perfect gift for any young person starting out in life or for those interested in finding a clear articulation of Rilke’s thoughts on life and art.
In this highly praised and extraordinary biography, Ralph Freedman traces Rilke's luminous career by weaving together detailed accounts of pivotal and formative episodes from the poet's restless life with a close, intimate reading of the verse and prose that refract them. This lively and engrossing biography offers much of interest to Rilke's growing body of followers.
For two generations, writers in the German Democratic Republic enjoyed a massive audience in their own country, a readership dependent on their works for a measure of utopian solace amid the grimness of life under Communism. But after the fall of the Berlin Wall, these writers were abandoned by their readers and stripped of the professional structures that had supported them. Their literary culture destroyed, they were rebuked for compliant service to the discredited state; and some were reviled for collaborating with the East German secret police, the Stasi.
What drove leading thinkers, including those of the avant-garde who publicly embraced intellectual freedom, to serve as government informants? Why were they content to work within a repressive system rather than challenging it outright? This collection of interviews with more than two dozen writers and literary scholars, including several Stasi informants, provides a gripping, often dismaying picture of the motivations, compromises, and illusions of East German intellectual life.
In conversations with Robert von Hallberg, writers such as best-selling novelist Hermann Kant, playwright Christoph Hein, and avant-garde poet-publisher Sascha Anderson talk about their lives and work before the fall of the wall in 1989—about the constraints and privileges of Communist Party membership, experiences of government censorship and self-censorship, and relations with their readers. They reflect on why the possibilities of opposition to the state seemed so limited, and on how they might have found ways to resist more aggressively. Turning to the controversies that have emerged since reunification, including the Stasi scandals involving Anderson and Christa Wolf, they discuss their feelings of complicity and the need for further self-examination. Two interviews with Anderson—one conducted before he was exposed as a Stasi collaborator and one conducted afterward—offer unique insight into the double life led by many writers and scholars in the German Democratic Republic.
Walter Benjamin Harvard University Press, 1986 Library of Congress PT2603.E455Z4713 1986 | Dewey Decimal 838.91203
The life of the German-Jewish literary critic and philosopher Walter Benjamin (1892–1940) is a veritable allegory of the life of letters in the twentieth century. Benjamin’s intellectual odyssey culminated in his death by suicide on the Franco–Spanish border, pursued by the Nazis, but long before he had traveled to the Soviet Union. His stunning account of that journey is unique among Benjamin’s writings for the frank, merciless way he struggles with his motives and conscience.
Perhaps the primary reason for his trip was his affection for Asja Lācis, a Latvian Bolshevik whom he had first met in Capri in 1924 and who would remain an important intellectual and erotic influence on him throughout the twenties and thirties. Asja Lācis resided in Moscow, eking out a living as a journalist, and Benjamin’s diary is, on one level, the account of his masochistic love affair with this elusive—and rather unsympathetic—object of desire. On another level, it is the story of a failed romance with the Russian Revolution; for Benjamin had journeyed to Russia not only to inform himself firsthand about Soviet society, but also to arrive at an eventual decision about joining the Communist Party. Benjamin’s diary paints the dilemma of a writer seduced by the promises of the Revolution yet unwilling to blinker himself to its human and institutional failings.
Moscow Diary is more than a record of ideological ambivalence; its literary value is considerable. Benjamin is one of the great twentieth-century physiognomists of the city, and his portrait of hibernal Moscow stands beside his brilliant evocations of Berlin, Naples, Marseilles, and Paris. Students of this particularly interesting period will find Benjamin’s eyewitness account of Moscow extraordinarily illuminating.
Novalis: Signs of Revolution
William Arctander O Brien Duke University Press, 1994 Library of Congress PT2291.Z5O27 1995 | Dewey Decimal 831.6
Novalis traces the meteoric career of one of the most striking—and most strikingly misunderstood—figures of German Romanticism. Although Friedrich von Hardenberg (better known by his pseudonym, Novalis) published scarcely eighty pages of writings in his lifetime, his considerable fame and influence continued to spread long after his death in 1801. His posthumous reputation, however, was largely based on the myth manufactured by opportunistic editors, as Wm. Arctander O’Brien reveals in this book, the first to extract Hardenberg from the distortions of history. A member of the generation of the 1770s that included Hegel, Hölderlin, and Schelling, Hardenberg was an avid follower of the French Revolution, a semiotician avant la lettre, and a prescient critic of religion. Yet in 1802, only a year after his death, the writer who had scandalized the Prussian court was marketed to a nation at war as a reactionary patriot, a sweet versifier of Idealism, and a morbid mystic. Identifying the break between Hardenberg’s own early Romanticism and the late Romanticism that falsified it, Novalis shows us a writer fully engaged in revolutionary politics and examines his semiotic readings of philosophy and of the political, scientific, and religious institutions of the day. Drawing on the full range of Novalis’s writings, including his poetry, notebooks, novels, and journals, O’Brien situates his semiotics between those of the eighteenth century and those of the twentieth and demonstrates the manner in which a concern for signs and language permeated all aspects of his thought. The most extensive study of Hardenberg available in English, Novalis makes this revolutionary theoretician visible for the first time. Mining a crucial chapter in the history of semiotics and social theory, it suggests fruitful, sometimes problematic connections between semiotic, historical, "deconstructive," and philological practices as it presents a portrait of one of the most complex figures in literary history. Indispensable for scholars of German Romanticism, Novalis will also be of interest to students of comparative literature and European intellectual history.
Walter BenjaminTranslated by Howard Eiland and Others Harvard University Press, 2006 Library of Congress PT2603.E455Z5743 2006 | Dewey Decimal 838.91209
Walter Benjamin's posthumously published collection of writings on hashish is a detailed blueprint for a book that was never written--a "truly exceptional book about hashish," as Benjamin describes it in a letter to his friend Gershom Scholem. A series of "protocols of drug experiments," written by himself and his co-participants between 1927 and 1934, together with short prose pieces that he published during his lifetime, On Hashish provides a peculiarly intimate portrait of Benjamin, venturesome as ever at the end of the Weimar Republic, and of his unique form of thought.
Consciously placing himself in a tradition of literary drug-connoisseurs from Baudelaire to Hermann Hesse, Benjamin looked to hashish and other drugs for an initiation into what he called "profane illumination." At issue here, as everywhere in Benjamin's work, is a new way of seeing, a new connection to the ordinary world. Under the influence of hashish, as time and space become inseparable, experiences become subtly stratified and resonant: we inhabit more than one plane in time. What Benjamin, in his contemporaneous study of Surrealism, calls "image space" comes vividly to life in this philosophical immersion in the sensuous.
This English-language edition of On Hashish features a section of supplementary materials--drawn from Benjamin's essays, letters, and sketches--relating to hashish use, as well as a reminiscence by his friend Jean Selz, which concerns a night of opium-smoking in Ibiza. A preface by Howard Eiland discusses the leading motifs of Benjamin's reflections on intoxication.
During a 1960 interview, East German writer Christa Wolf was asked a curious question: would she describe in detail what she did on September 27th? Fascinated by considering the significance of a single day over many years, Wolf began keeping a detailed diary of September 27th, a practice which she carried on for more than fifty years until her death in 2011. The first volume of these notes covered 1960 through 2000 was published to great acclaim more than a decade ago. Now translator Katy Derbyshire is bringing the September 27th collection up to date with One Day a Year—a collection of Wolf’s notes from the last decade of her life.
The book is both a personal record and a unique document of our times. With her characteristic precision and transparency, Wolf examines the interplay of the private, subjective, and major contemporary historical events. She writes about Germany after 9/11, about her work on her last great book City of Angels, and also about her exhausting confrontation with old age. One Day a Year is a compelling and personal glimpse into the life of one of the world’s greatest writers.
Hans Magnus Enzensberger Seagull Books, 2016 Library of Congress PT2609.N9Z46 2014
A collection of writings based on Enzensberger’s personal experience as a left-wing sympathizer during the 1960s.
Hans Magnus Enzensberger, widely regarded as Germany’s greatest living poet, was already well known in the 1960s, the tempestuous decade of which Tumult is an autobiographical record. Derived from old papers, notes, jottings, photos, and letters that the poet stumbled upon years later in his attic, the volume is not so much about the man, but rather the many places he visited and people whom he met on his travels through the Soviet Union and Cuba during the 1960s. The book is made up of four long-form pieces written from 1963 to 1970, each episode concluding with a poem and postscript written in 2014. Translated by Mike Mitchell, the book is a lively and deftly written travelogue offering a glimpse into the history of leftist thought. Dedicated to “those who disappeared,” Tumult is a document of that which remains one of humanity’s headiest times.
Walter Benjamin: A Critical Life
Howard Eiland and Michael Jennings Harvard University Press, 2014 Library of Congress PT2603.E455Z6455 2013 | Dewey Decimal 838.91209
Walter Benjamin is one of the twentieth century's most important intellectuals, and also one of its most elusive. His writings—mosaics incorporating philosophy, literary criticism, Marxist analysis, and a syncretistic theology—defy simple categorization. And his mobile, often improvised existence has proven irresistible to mythologizers. His writing career moved from the brilliant esotericism of his early writings through his emergence as a central voice in Weimar culture and on to the exile years, with its pioneering studies of modern media and the rise of urban commodity capitalism in Paris. That career was played out amid some of the most catastrophic decades of modern European history: the horror of the First World War, the turbulence of the Weimar Republic, and the lengthening shadow of fascism. Now, a major new biography from two of the world's foremost Benjamin scholars reaches beyond the mosaic and the mythical to present this intriguing figure in full.
Howard Eiland and Michael Jennings make available for the first time a rich store of information which augments and corrects the record of an extraordinary life. They offer a comprehensive portrait of Benjamin and his times as well as extensive commentaries on his major works, including "The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility," the essays on Baudelaire, and the great study of the German Trauerspiel. Sure to become the standard reference biography of this seminal thinker, Walter Benjamin: A Critical Life will prove a source of inexhaustible interest for Benjamin scholars and novices alike.