Gretel Adorno, Walter Benjamin

Gretel Adorno / Walter Benjamin: Correspondence 1930 - 1940

Edited by Christoph Gödde and Henri Lonitz

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English world rights (Polity Press), Spanish world rights (Eterna cadencia), France (Gallimard), Japan (Misuzu Shobo)


The correspondence between Gretel Adorno and Walter Benjamin began in 1930, but only after Benjamin’s emigration to France did it reach its full intensity, standing not only as a testament to the intellectual Berlin of the twenties, but also as a document of a great friendship that existed independently of the relationship between Benjamin and Theodor W. Adorno.

While Benjamin wrote of his daily tribulations and the pressing projects he worked on in the last years of his life, primarily the “Baudelaire” texts, it was Gretel Karplus Adorno who tried with all her might and main to keep him on earth. She urged him to emigrate, informed him of Adorno’s plans and where Bloch was staying, and in so doing maintained the connection between the old Berlin friends and acquaintances. She sent him monetary aid through the most difficult periods and organized financial support from Saarland, which remained for a time independent from the German Reich. After arriving in New York, she attempted to lure him with descriptions of those newly arriving. But Benjamin wrote in early 1940: »We must see to it that we put our very best into our letters, for there is yet no sign that the moment of our reunion is near.«