In the Shadow of Catastrophe: German Intellectuals Between Apocalypse and Enlightenment

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University of California Press, Dec 18, 1997 - History - 252 pages
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These essays by eminent European intellectual and cultural historian Anson Rabinbach address the writings of key figures in twentieth-century German philosophy. Rabinbach explores their ideas in relation to the two world wars and the horrors facing Europe at that time.

Analyzing the work of Benjamin and Bloch, he suggests their indebtedness to the traditions of Jewish messianism. In a discussion of Hugo Ball's little-known Critique of the German Intelligentsia, Rabinbach reveals the curious intellectual career of the Dadaist and antiwar activist turned-nationalist and anti-Semite. His examination of Heidegger's "Letter on Humanism" and Jaspers's The Question of German Guilt illuminates the complex and often obscure political referents of these texts. Turning to Horkheimer and Adorno's Dialectic of Enlightenment, Rabinbach offers an arresting new interpretation of this central text of the critical theory of the Frankfurt School. Subtly and persuasively argued, his book will become an indispensable reference point for all concerned with twentieth-century German history and thought.

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Between Apocalypse and Enlightenment Benjamin Bloch and Modern German Jewish Messianism
The Inverted Nationalism of Hugo Balls Critique of the German Intelligentsia
Heideggers Letter on Humanism as Text and Event
The German as Pariah Karl Jasperss The Question of German Guilt
The Cunning of Unreason Mimesis and the Construction of AntiSemitism in Horkheimer and Adornos Dialectic of Enlightenment

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Page 13 - The nineteenth and twentieth centuries have given us as much terror as we can take. We have paid a high enough price for the nostalgia of the whole and the one, for the reconciliation of the concept and the sensible, of the transparent and the communicable experience.
Page 9 - The reality is that 'the Nazis are men like ourselves'; the nightmare is that they have shown, have proven beyond doubt what man is capable of. In other words, the problem of evil will be the fundamental question of postwar intellectual life in Europe—as death became the fundamental problem after the last war."
Page 10 - would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed,

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About the author (1997)

Anson Rabinbach is Professor of History at Princeton University. He is author of The Crisis of Austrian Socialism: From Red Vienna to Civil War, 1927-1934 (1983) and The Human Motor: Energy, Fatigue and the Origins of Modernity (California, 1992).

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