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Theodor W. Adorno

Posthumous Writings. Section V: Lectures and Conversations - Volume 1: Lectures 1949-1968

Edited by Michael Schwarz
Theodor W. Adorno
Foto: Theodor W. Adorno

Theodor W. Adorno was born on September 11, 1903 in Frankfurt am Main and died on August 6, 1969 from the consequences of a heart attack while on vacation in Visp/Valais. From 1921 to 1923 he studied Philosophy, Sociology and Musicology in Frankfurt and obtained his doctorate in 1924 with a thesis on »Transcendence of the Material and Noematic in Husserl’s Phenomenology«. He became friends with Siegfried Kracauer in his school days and later with Max Horkheimer and Walter Benjamin during their years at university. Alongside them, Adorno is one of the most important representatives of the »Frankfurt School«, which emerged from the Institute for Social Research at the Goethe University Frankfurt. The collected works of Theodor W. Adorno are published by Suhrkamp Verlag and have been translated into more than 40 languages.

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About

When Theodor W. Adorno returned to Germany from his American exile in 1949, he not only resumed his teaching and research at the Goethe University Frankfurt and the Institute for Social Research, but he also quickly established a reputation as a public intellectual. Adorno’s considerable influence on the debates of the post-war period was also due to his lectures given outside the context of the university in which he pointedly spoke about different societal developments.

This volume contains 20 of these lectures given between 1949 and 1968. They deal with a wide range of topics: the addictive potential of Proust’s prose and the compositional technique of Richard Strauss, questions of urban construction and pedagogy, superstition and antisemitism, the authoritarian personality and new right-wing radicalism. The lectures gain their unique appeal from their free form: They don’t strive to be treatises but are understood as improvisations designed to encourage listeners to use their own mind. Or, as Adorno put it himself: »I leave this with you to ponder.«

Praise

»A preeminent thinker dedicated to public enlightenment […]. His lectures show Adorno as an exponent of a second, intellectual formation of Germany.« Stefan Müller-Doohm, Neue Zürcher Zeitung

»Adorno’s thinking in unreconciled contradictions is considered difficult. It presents itself as more topical than ever in an astonishingly nimble-footed way in his collected public lectures and speeches.« Jens-Christian Rabe, Süddeutsche Zeitung

»At this point it cannot be concealed that wistfulness beset the reviewer time and again: What a level of contemplation an intellectual without fear of the accusation of being elitist permitted himself!« Wolfgang Matz, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

»The first two decades of the Federal Republic are commonly described as grey and constrictive. But Adorno’s lectures that he gave indefatigably reveal the intellectual life there was. Even though it is but a selection that Michael Schwarz has collected here, it is of the highest standard – and at the same time, it is is, unlike Adorno’s written style, simple, lucid and readily comprehensible.« Bernhard Schulz, Der Tagesspiegel

»Time and again, Adorno presented the neo-Marxist concept of critical theory in an accessible way. […] His aim was to enlighten. With his media presence he kept upstaging all the other well-known thinkers of the time.« Gerhard Schweppenhäuser, taz. die tageszeitung

»It’s astonishing and sad at the same time how much almost all of it has retained its urgency until today. A treasure chest, therefore, that is going to provide thinkers with arguments and comfort for a long time to come.« der Freitag

»Adorno was a musical artist in so far that he reflected the tension between serious cognition and its formal representation vice versa in the two spheres he had grown fond of. As a musician, he remained the communicating philosopher and wasn‘t just an entertainer – and as a philosopher he processed the material into a dramatic portrayal entirely. It’s possibly from this particular form of improvisation that the joy, that also rubs off on the reader, stems from.« Wolfgang Bock, Glanz & Elend

»One needn’t be afraid of dry lectures. Sure, Adorno (1903-1969) always moves in considerable theoretical heights, but it is palpable that he tried, especially in his public lectures, to meet his respective audience, to appeal to its reason in a manner that is occasionally downright entertaining.« Bernd Berke, revierpassagen.de

Other publications

Aspekte des neuen Rechtsradikalismus/Aspects of Contemporary Right-Wing Radicalism (2019)

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»Der liebe Gott wohnt im Detail« Briefwechsel 1939-1969/»The good Lord lives in the details« (2015)

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Briefe und Briefwechsel/Correspondence 1923-1966 (2008)

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Traumprotokolle/Dream Protocols (2005)

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Zu einer Theorie der musikalischen Reproduktion/Towards a Theory of Musical Reproduction (2005)

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Beethoven. Philosophie der Musik/Beethoven (2004)

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Gesammelte Schriften in 20 Bänden/Collected Writings in 20 Volumes (1997)

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Nachgelassene Schriften. Abteilung I: Fragment gebliebene Schriften/Posthumous Writings (1994)

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Philosophie der neuen Musik/Philosophy of Modern Music (1987)

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Philosophische Terminologie/Philosophical Terminology (1974)

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Ästhetische Theorie/Aesthetic Theory (1973)

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Philosophische Terminologie/Philosophical Terminology (1973)

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Gesammelte Schriften in 20 Bänden/Hegel (1963)

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Die musikalischen Monographien/Mahler (1960)

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Minima Moralia/Minima Moralia (1951)

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