Adorno in Naples: The Origins of Critical Theory

Adorno in Naples: The Origins of Critical Theory
A meld of intellectual biography, philosophy and travel writing exploring the life of Theodor Adorno in Naples at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Adorno in Naples brings to life a period in European intellectual history when the romantic landscape of the Bay of Naples became a magnet for writers, poets and philosophers.

At the beginning of the twentieth century there was a meeting of minds in Southern Italy (paralleled by the Bloomsbury circle's enthusiasm for the same region) and figures such as Bertolt Brecht and Maxim Gorky, as well as key figures involved in the Frankfurt School, such as Theodor W. Adorno and Walter Benjamin, flocked to Capri and Sorrento.

The young Adorno was studying composition in Vienna and at first, accompanied by aspiring political journalist Siegfried Kracauer, he followed the tourist trail unwillingly. But soon he became enchanted by the landscape, both for its southern gentleness and its wild, untamable qualities. Mittelmeier recounts how Adorno's experiences lay the foundations for his mature philosophical thinking, his thought inspired both by the natural world and by his discussions with fellow intellectuals like Benjamin and Alfred Sohn-Rethel.

Martin Mittelmeier's thoughtful blend of travel-writing and philosophy furthers our understanding of the European intelligentsia during the early twentieth century, and is an invitation to rediscover one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century.

Publication Date: 
November 26, 2019