Naples 1925: Adorno, Benjamin, and the Summer That Made Critical Theory

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Naples 1925: Adorno, Benjamin, and the Summer That Made Critical Theory
The untold story of how the volcanic landscape surrounding Naples influenced a crucial moment in twentieth-century intellectual history

In the 1920s, the Gulf of Naples was a magnet for European intellectuals in search of places as yet untouched by modernity. Among the revolutionaries, artists, and thinkers drawn to Naples were numerous scholars, all at a formative stage in their journeys: Walter Benjamin, Siegfried Kracauer, Alfred Sohn-Rethel, Asja Lacis, Theodor W. Adorno, and many others. While all were indelibly shaped by the volcanic Neapolitan landscape, it was Benjamin who first probed the relationship between the porous landscape and the local culture. But Adorno went further, transforming his surroundings into a radical new philosophy--one that became a turning point in the modern history of the discipline.

In this ingenious book, Martin Mittelmeier reveals the Gulf of Naples as the true birthplace of the Frankfurt School. From the majestic crater rim of Mount Vesuvius to the soft volcanic rock that Neapolitans used to build their city, Mittelmeier follows Adorno and his fellow thinkers' footsteps through the cities along the gulf, demonstrating how their observations and encounters surface again and again in their writings for decades to come, and ultimately serve as the structuring principle of critical theory.

Publication Date: 
November 12, 2024