Bertolt Brecht: Centenary Essays

The publication of this volume of essays marks the centenary of the birth of Bertolt Brecht on February The essays were commissioned from scholars and critics around the world and cover six main areas recent biographical controversies neglected theoretical writings the semiotics of Brechtian theatre new readings of classic texts Brecht s role and reception in the GDR and contemporary appropriations of Brecht s work This volume will be essential reading for all those interested in twentieth century theatre modern German studies and the contemporary reassessment of post war culture in the wake of German unification and the collapse of Stalinist communism in Central and Eastern Europe The essays in this volume also address a variety of general questions concerning for example authorship and textuality the nature of Brecht s Marxism in relation to his understanding of modernity science and Enlightenment reason Marxist aesthetics radical cultural politics and feminist performance theory

The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, and Other Writings on Media

p Benjamin s famous Work of Art essay sets out his boldest thoughts on media and on culture in general in their most realized form while retaining an edge that gets under the skin of everyone who reads it In this essay the visual arts of the machine age morph into literature and theory and then back again to images gestures and thought p p This essay however is only the beginning of a vast collection of writings that the editors have assembled to demonstrate what was revolutionary about Benjamin s explorations on media Long before Marshall McLuhan Benjamin saw that the way a bullet rips into its victim is exactly the way a movie or pop song lodges in the soul p p This book contains the second and most daring of the four versions of the Work of Art essay the one that addresses the utopian developments of the modern media The collection tracks Benjamin s observations on the media as they are revealed in essays on the production and reception of art on film radio and photography and on the modern transformations of literature and painting The volume contains some of Benjamin s best known work alongside fascinating little known essays some appearing for the first time in English In the context of his passionate engagement with questions of aesthetics the scope of Benjamin s media theory can be fully appreciated p

The Writer of Modern Life: Essays on Charles Baudelaire

Walter Benjamin s essays on the great French lyric poet Charles Baudelaire revolutionized not just the way we think about Baudelaire but our understanding of modernity and modernism as well In these essays Benjamin challenges the image of Baudelaire as late Romantic dreamer and evokes instead the modern poet caught in a life or death struggle with the forces of the urban commodity capitalism that had emerged in Paris around The Baudelaire who steps forth from these pages is the flAneur who affixes images as he strolls through mercantile Paris the ragpicker who collects urban detritus only to turn it into poetry the modern hero willing to be marked by modern life in its contradictions and paradoxes He is in every instance the modern artist forced to commodify his literary production Baudelaire knew how it stood with the poet as a flAneur he went to the market to look it over as he thought but in reality to find a buyer Benjamin reveals Baudelaire as a social poet of the very first rank br br The introduction to this volume presents each of Benjamin s essays on Baudelaire in chronological order The introduction intended for an undergraduate audience aims to articulate and analyze the major motifs and problems in these essays and to reveal the relationship between the essays and Benjamin s other central statements on literature its criticism and its relation to the society that produces it

Early Writings

Written in when Marx was barely twenty five this astonishingly rich body of works formed the cornerstone for his later political philosophy In the Critique of Hegel s Doctrine of the State he dissects Hegel s thought and develops his own views on civil society while his Letters reveal a furious intellect struggling to develop the egalitarian theory of state Equally challenging are his controversial essay On the Jewish Question and the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts where Marx first made clear his views on alienation the state democracy and human nature Brilliantly insightful Marx s Early Writings reveal a mind on the brink of one of the most revolutionary ideas in human history the theory of Communism br br This translation fully conveys the vigour of the original works The introduction by Lucio Colletti considers the beliefs of the young Marx and explores these writings in the light of the later development of Marxism

Fabian: The Story of a Moralist

Originally published in German in and in an expurgated English translation in this novel is the tale of Jacob Fabian a Berlin advertising copywriter doomed in the context of economic ethical and political collapse by his characteristic mixture of detachment and decency Fabian is a middle of the road liberal an Enlightenment rationalist a believer that the public condition reflects prevailing private moralities and a skeptic toward all ideological nostrums Richly detailed and vividly plotted Fabian remains an unparalleled personalization of the collapse of the Weimar Republic This new edition restores the deleted sections considered too explicit for the original publication It also includes Kastner s epilogue which had been rejected by the original publisher the preface added by the author to the German reissue and an informative foreword by the scholar Rodney Livingstone

In Search of Wagner

Richard Wagner s works are among the most controversial in the history of European music because of their powerful aesthetic qualities and in wider political terms because of their eventual assimilation into the official culture of the Third Reich br br This concise synoptic account by the most brilliant exponent of Frankfurt School Marxism subtly interweaves these artistic and ideological qualities It provides deft musicological analyses of Wagner s scores and of his compositional techniques orchestration and staging methods quoting copiously from the music dramas themselves At the same time it offers incisive reflections on Wagner s social character and the ideological impulses of his artistic activity

Quasi Una Fantasia: Essays on Modern Music

i Quasi una Fantasia i contains Adorno s own selection from his essays and journalism over more than three decades In its analytical profundity it can be compared to his i Philosophy of Modern Music i but in the range of its topics and the clarity of its arguments it stands alone among Adorno s writings on music At the book s core are illuminating studies of the founders of modern music Mahler Schoenberg and Berg as well as sympathetic rediscoveries of Alexander Zemlinsky and Franz Schreker Especially significant is Adorno s dialectical portrait of Stravinsky in which he both reconsiders and refines the damning indictment he gave in i Philosophy on Modern Music i In Vers une musique informelle an influential essay he plots a course for a music of the future which takes up the challenge of an unrevised unrestricted freedom More unexpectedly there are moving accounts of earlier works including Bizet s i Carmen i and Weber s i Der Freischutz i along with an entertainingly caustic Natural History of the Theatre Which explores the hierarchies of the auditorium from upper circle to foyer br br The positive element of kitsch Adorno remarks lies in the fact that it sets free for a moment the glimmering realization that you have wasted your life Musical kitsch is the target of several of the shorter pieces on Gounod s i Ave Maria i or Tchaikovsky s clumsy naivety on the Penny Serenade of the transformation of Mozart into chocolate box rococo Yet even while Adorno demolishes commodity music he is sustained by the conviction that music is supremely human because it retains the capacity to speak of inhumanity and to resist it It is a conviction which reverberates throughout these writings For Adorno music and philosophy were inextricably linked i Quasi una Fantasia i will enlarge our understanding of both

History and Class Consciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics

This is the first time one of the most important of Lukacs early theoretical writings published in Germany in has been made available in English The book consists of a series of essays treating among other topics the definition of orthodox Marxism the question of legality and illegality Rosa Luxemburg as a Marxist the changing function of Historic Marxism class consciousness and the substantiation and consciousness of the Proletariat Writing in on the occasion of the appearance of his collected works Lukacs evaluated the influence of this book as follows br br For the historical effect of i History and Class Consciousness i and also for the actuality of the present time one problem is of decisive importance alienation which is here treated for the first time since Marx as the central question of a revolutionary critique of capitalism and whose historical as well as methodological origins are deeply rooted in Hegelian dialectic It goes without saying that the problem was omnipresent A few years after i History and Class Consciousness i was published it was moved into the focus of philosophical discussion by Heidegger in his i Being and Time i a place which it maintains to this day largely as a result of the position occupied by Sartre and his followers The philologic question raised by L Goldmann who considered Heidegger s work partly as a polemic reply to my admittedly unnamed work need not be discussed here It suffices today to say that the problem was in the air particularly if we analyze its background in detail in order to clarify its effect the mixture of Marxist and Existentialist thought processes which prevailed especially in France immediately after the Second World War In this connection priorities influences and so on are not particularly significant What is important is that the alienation of man was recognized and appreciated as the central problem of the time in which we live by bourgeois as well as proletarian by politically rightist and leftist thinkers Thus i History and Class Consciousness i exerted a profound effect in the circles of the youthful intelligentsia

History and Freedom: Lectures 1964-1965

This book gives us an overview of all the themes and motifs of Adorno s philosophy of history the key notion of the domination of nature his criticism of the existentialist concept of a historicity without history and finally his opposition to the idea of truth as something permanent and ahistorical

Religion and Cultural Memory: Ten Studies

In ten brilliant essays Jan Assmann explores the connections between religion culture and memory Building on Maurice Halbwachs s idea that memory like language is a social phenomenon as well as an individual one he argues that memory has a cultural dimension too He develops a persuasive view of the life of the past in such surface phenomena as codes religious rites and festivals and canonical texts on the one hand and in the Freudian psychodrama of repressing and resurrecting the past on the other Whereas the current fad for oral history inevitably focuses on the actual memories of the last century or so Assmann presents a commanding view of culture extending over five thousand years He focuses on cultural memory from the Egyptians Babylonians and the Osage Indians down to recent controversies about memorializing the Holocaust in Germany and the role of memory in the current disputes between Israelis and Palestinians in the Middle East and between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland br br