Origin of Negative Dialectics

Buck-Morss, Susan
ISBN:
9780029051504

Buck-Morss is a lucid and passionate guide to the difficult work of Adorno and Benjamin. This is not to say that she presents their work in an easily digestible form. Indeed, Buck-Morss's clarity makes readers appreciate how much they must be aware of to understand what Adorno and Benjamin were up to. Buck-Morss's valuable discussions of Kant, Hegel, Lukacs, Horkheimer, Schoenberg, and others, make plain that there is no easy introduction to these figures, as fascinating as their ideas may be. This book's most important contribution to the English-language literature on critical theory is its exposition of Adorno's debts to Benjamin, despite their disagreements. It's hard to imagine what Adorno's body of work would have looked like without his relationship with Benjamin. If there is a limitation here it is Buck-Morss's apparent (but not uncritical) preference for Adorno to Benjamin that belies her later appreciation for Benjamin in The Dialectics of Seeing and Dreamworld and Catastrophe. This work is steeped in cultural history, biographical detail, and philosophy, so if you find critical theory seductive but somewhat hellish, Buck-Morss is your Vergil.

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