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Dialectic of Enlightenment (Cultural Memory in the Present) 1st Edition
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By all means read the Dialectic of Enlightenment! But be sure to use only the new translation published by Stanford.
While not wishing to detract from what has been said about the importance of this book, it is worth mentioning that the English translation is scandalously bad and in need of replacement. I've had occasion to make extensive comparisons between the German original and the translation and the results are not encouraging. Much is simply flat-out wrong (e.g., sometimes the translator mistakes one German word for another) even more is unnecessarily clumsy. While Horkheimer and Adorno adopted a rather dense style of writing, nothing they produced is quite as cumbersome as what readers of this translation have had to endure.
One can sympathize with the translator -- he did the translation at a time when very little by Horkheimer and Adorno was in English and it appears that he worked under a rather tight schedule (it is possible to find errors piling up on a page and then suddenly ceasing -- suggesting that the poor fellow took a break and came back later on, with happier results). But there is no forgiving the publisher for leaving this text uncorrected for so long despite a long-standing consensus among students of the Frankfurt School that this is a deeply flawed translation. That anything of the power of the original makes it through the muck of this translation is a testimony to the force of Horkheimer and Adorno's ideas.
A new translation is long overdue. Until then, readers coming to the work of the Frankfurt School might want to seek out Max Horkheimer's Eclipse of Reason, a summary of the argument elaborated here which Horkheimer delivered in English at Columbia University at about the same time of as the publication of the German original of this book.
The main subject of the book, though that itself is already difficult to disentangle, is Enlightenment's betrayal of its own liberating capacity. Adorno & Horkheimer analyze this by means of various cultural metaphors, which in highly abstract, contradictory and aesthetic language (especially the parts by Adorno) trace the development of Enlightenment and its subsequent 'dark side' throughout an equally metaphorical history of culture and ideas. In a certain sense this may most remind readers not familiar with both authors of Foucault and his use of concepts like the Panopticon to express a view of power relations. The method of Adorno and Horkheimer is however not so much genealogical, as Foucault's is, as dialectical in its idealist form.
The book consists of an introduction, two "excursions" and two chapters on the Enlightenment itself, as well as a series of aphorisms provided at the end as "notes and sketches". Each part of the book consists of a very abstract, very metaphysical and almost entrancing analysis of, in turn, the development of Enlightenment as myth out of earlier myth, the form of modern Enlightenment as instrumental reason and mass deception, and the limits of Enlightenment to its own rationality, in the form of anti-semitism.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
For many years, *Dialectic of Enlightenment* was a book more rumored of than read. First in Germany, where the first edition languished for years until the interest of the New Left... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Jeffrey Rubard
The Obama manual. Essential reading for understanding the present-day "liberal" mindset and what the modern Democrat party has become.Published 14 months ago by gzulux
Essential reading for anyone interested in how culture became the way it is.Published 15 months ago by Michael A
Horkheimer and Adorno's Dialectic of Enlightenment is a dense and difficult book that addresses a diversity of demanding topics. Read morePublished 18 months ago by not a natural
Max Horkheimer (1895-1973) was a German Jewish philosopher and sociologist who was famous for his work in critical theory as a member of the 'Frankfurt School' of social research. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Steven H Propp
Adrono's neo-Marxist musings on Capitalism and mythology is, from my perspective, a bit out of date with respect to current thinking on mythology and modern capitalism. Read morePublished on February 6, 2014 by cloud2013
So now I understand where the Sokal hoax came from. To people who are used to stuff like this, Sokal's paper was just more of the same. Read morePublished on January 19, 2014 by S. Matthews