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Aesthetic Theory (Theory and History of Literature) 1st Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0816618002
ISBN-10: 0816618003
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While the imitators of great literary theorists may have produced the least lucid, most jargon-laden and most parodied literary and cultural criticism since the 18th century, editors Wlad Godzich and Jochen Schulte-Sasse of the University of Minnesota's Theory and History of Literature series cannot be blamed for such excesses. Their 88-volume series, which contains some of the most cogent though still challenging criticism of the last 15 years, terminates with a volume from the controversial late Yale deconstructionist Paul de Man (Aesthetic Ideology) and a retranslated edition of mid-century Frankfurt School leader Theodore Adorno's Aesthetic Theory. This dignified leave-taking preempts the empty millennial speculation currently dominating postmodern studies, and leaves in its wake a generation of scholars reared on the series. (De Man: $49.95, 224p ISBN 0-8166-2203-5, $19.95 paper -2204-3; Adorno: $39.95, 448p ISBN 0-8166-1799-6, cloth only)
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


“….the fact that they [Continuum] are putting low price tags on works once published in expensive academic editions is something of which we can all be glad..” –Modern Painters, 2/05 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Theory and History of Literature (Book 88)
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Univ Of Minnesota Press; 1 edition (August 12, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816618003
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816618002
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #157,653 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By R. Gavilanes on October 25, 2010
Format: Paperback
This is an uncompromising reminder that art is not decoration, or popular culture, it is far most profound, and that our narrow perspective on the world structured by our ecstatic media frenzied mass culture is a false and brief illusion.
Adorno reaches accross centuries to find the importance of art in human endeavor and development, how art is part of articulating these and essential to historical progress.
I dont want to get into reviewing his text, I am not capable critiquing it, and other reviews have placed it in the historical/intellectual context. I dont know of any serious thinker in the last century that invested so much thought into the aesthethic philosophy of modernity, thus I find the ultimate philosophical text on modern art. For me Adorno's position hinges on his critique of catharsis as an unacheivable condition of modernity.
It is a refreshing and motivating book to withstand and overcome all the misinformation that is thrown at us constantly and irresposibly. His examples are mostly from music so it is much more abstract than the visual arts examples of most art theory. A must for anyone that really cares about art. I dare you to read this and go to some trendy galleries afterwards. I say this because it will make you see right trhough all the pretense, and long for the real, the universal, the historically significant workamd rediscover it.
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Format: Hardcover
Theodor Adorno's "Aesthetic Theory" is in one respect about the end of art;it was written partially in response to his friend Walter Benjamin. Benjamin's views on the ends of art and the pontentialities, the encrusted meanings waiting to me unleashed in mass produced art. Benjamin had thought there was an emancipatory moment in art in now the age of mechanical production. Since Adorno had outlived Benjamin until 1969, Adorno's task was to furnish us with the conception of art now as a pennyless child gazing into the candystore, an art in exile, an art where the disintegration of cultural pillars have long eroded away. Schoenberg's varigated orchestral scores was the ultimate rebellion in a private world, the subject at last trying to find truth and resemblance within the aesthetic crumbs leftover from the 19th century.
Adorno's " Aesthetic Theory" is not only a treatise, a counterflow, a tone-poem of fragments, symphonic forms exploded into motives and cells of thought, it is a bridge between all arts,although the relativily new form of film is neglected. Adorno had thought this fragmentary style of writing as satisfying with the collapse of system-building within philosophic thought.The aesthetic strategy of Adorno's thought then is one which interfaces, interrelates, crosses itself in its various readings of art. And the reader expects this complexity to be apparent. Robert Hullot-Kentor's translation is indeed something which encourages this reading of Adorno. He allows us to enter Adorno's thought in its full complexity. So, graphically he allows the undivision of paragraphs to remain as Adorno had originally composed in draft form. Adorno's thought continually overflows,continually creates layers, multilayers of references.
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Format: Paperback
"The darkening of the world makes rational the irrational in art: it's an irrationality radically obscured". "The art doesn't imitate neither the nature nor to a concrete natural beauty, but the natural beauty by itself." "The efforts of the art by saving, in the remaining, all the transient, flowing and temporal, defending it from the stuffing though art is familiarized with it, bear a tension between the objectifying technique and the mimetic essence of the works."

"Aesthetical theory" is a huge compendium of smart ideas, a whole corpus of clever and revealing concepts about the role of the art. His architectural intelligence and supreme erudition literally is an engaging tour de force, an impressive gallery of sharp reflections that will motivate you, dear reader.

Since I acquired it, this book has become one of my cult texts, whose relevant importance remains beyond any other superlative you want to label it.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Adorno's Aesthetic Theory is not the first book you want to grab if you neither have a solid foundation in the basics of the German philosophical tradition, nor have spent some time reading other, more simplistic texts on aesthetics. This book is paratactic — some paragraphs run for several pages. This is intentional; Adorno's hope is to force the reader to think in a radial fashion, returning, like a spiral, back to ideas already presented, but framed differently. This aggravates many. It is also a posthumous work, so it's quite unrefined. Inasmuch as it might be foolhardy to snip choice quotes out of their paratactic contexts, thereby squelching the experience Adorno is trying to force the reader into, it is also foolhardy to believe this represents Adorno at his best.

Reading Hullot-Kentor's Translator's Introduction is a must. If you heed his suggestion and read the Draft Introduction first and then approach the beginning as he states, the text in general will make much more sense early on than if you try to start at the beginning and dive off the cliff into the chaos of words.

Finally, for those who can surmount these caveats, I believe you will, about one-third of the way through, begin to appreciate the effort for not only its choice snippets, but the work as a whole.
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