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Adorno, Theodor W.

Notes to Literature

With an introd. by Kottman, Paul

Series:European Perspectives: A Series in Social Thought and Cultural Criticism


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    October 2019
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    Aims and Scope

    Notes to Literature is a collection of the great social theorist Theodor W. Adorno’s essays on such writers as Mann, Bloch, Goethe, and Benjamin, as well as his reflections on a variety of subjects. This edition presents this classic work in full in a single volume, with a new introduction by Paul Kottman.


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    Paul Kottman (PhD, Comparative Literature, UC Berkeley; Habilitation, Aesthetics, Scientifica Nazionale, Italy) is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, with affiliation in Philosophy, at the New School. He is the author of Disinheriting the Globe: Tragic Conditions in Shakespeare (Hopkins, 2009), A Politics of the Scene (Stanford, 2008), and Love as Human Freedom (Stanford, forthcoming), the editor of Philosophers on Shakespeare (Stanford, 2009) and The Insistence of Art: Aesthetic Philosophy and Early Modernity (Fordham, 2017), and the translator of Cavarero: For More Than One Voice: Toward a Philosophy of Vocal Expression (Stanford, 2005). He is also the editor of the series Square One: First-Order Questions in the Humanities (Stanford).Theodor W. Adorno (1903–1969), an eminent critic, philosopher, and social theorist, was one of the major intellectual voices of the twentieth century and a leading member of the Frankfurt School. His many classic works include Minima Moralia, The Philosophy of New Music, Critical Models, Aesthetic Theory, Negative Dialectics, and, with Max Horkheimer, Dialectic of Enlightenment.

    Rolf Tiedemann (1932–2018) was the editor of Adorno’s complete works.

    Shierry Weber Nicholsen is a practicing psychotherapist and psychoanalyst in Seattle. She is the author of Exact Imagination, Late Work: On Adorno's Aesthetics (1997) and the translator of a number of books by Adorno, including Hegel: Three Studies (1994); Habermas, including Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action (2001); and other members of the Frankfurt School.

    Paul Kottman is associate professor of comparative literature and chair of liberal studies at the New School. His books include Disinheriting the Globe: Tragic Conditions in Shakespeare (2009).


    Paul Kottman, author of Love as Human Freedom:
    Anyone who wants to understand Adorno’s philosophy must return to the judgments rendered about literature within these pages.

    Alexander García Düttmann, author of Philosophy of Exaggeration:
    Notes to Literature is not only an important document of Adorno's interest in art and aesthetics, but it is also a groundbreaking examination of literature in general.

    Fredric Jameson:
    The most accessible works in Adorno’s canon, these short essays on literary and cultural subjects in reality touch on most of the major philosophical preoccupations of his life's work: ranging from figures like Beckett or Thomas Mann, Balzac or Dickens, Bloch or Lukacs to movements like surrealism and existentialism, they show what a dialectical analysis of poetic texts can yield as well as making some fundamental statements about the status of the intellectual and the political, social and historical function of art. In what must be the acid test for any translator, Shierry Weber Nicholsen expertly and reliably navigates the syntactical reefs.

    Edward Said:
    Eccentric, brilliant, unreadably readable, aphoristic and gnomic in the extreme, Adorno’s Notes to Literature stand by themselves as essays of genius. They are not simply criticism, they are literature.

    Susan Sontag:
    Adorno’s Notes to Literature . . . sets an inimitable, always exhilarating standard. A volume of Adorno’s essays is equivalent to a whole shelf of books on literature.

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