From Publishers Weekly
A co-founder of the so-called Frankfurt School of philosophy, Theodor Wiesengrund-Adorno (19031969) produced critiques of art and culture that have pointed the way for post-Holocaust, post-Marxist thinkers of all stripes. Particularly influential were his works Dialectic of Enlightenment (written with Max Horkheimer in 1944) and the brilliantly aphoristic Minima Moralia. In this concise biography, Jäger, an editor at the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, focuses on the people, ideas and institutions through which Adorno constructed his politically oriented critique of modern culture and society. Raised in a middle-class family, Adorno first entertained the idea of being a musician but turned to philosophy after WWI. He especially favored the aesthetics and existentialism of Kierkegaard (on whom he wrote his dissertation) and the phenomenology of Husserl. With the advent of National Socialism in Germany, Adorno fled to the U.S. for political reasons, and because his father had Jewish roots. Jäger provides tart glimpses of Adornos relationships with Siegfried Kracauer, Walter Benjamin, Thomas Mann and Bertolt Brecht, among others, and of the power relations within his main intellectual home, the Institute for Social Research. Ambition and coldness dominate Jägers Adorno, and he suggests that Adornos achievements deserve due measures of both respect and skepticism. After their exile in the U.S., Adorno and the Institute returned to Frankfurt in the 1950s, and Jäger does a terrific job describing the varying strands and strains of its power there, right up to the student revolts of the late 60s (when Adornos lectures were disrupted). This excellent volume delivers a microcosm of German intellectual life through a portrait of one of its major 20th-century exponents.
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“This excellent volume delivers a microcosm of German intellectual life through a portrait of one of its major 20th-century exponents.”—Publishers Weekly