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Adorno: A Biography

709 Pages · 2014 · 13.52 MB · English

  • Adorno: A Biography

    Adorno I dedicate this biography to my daughter Anna-Maximiliane because


    I would like my account of Adorno’s life and work to help keep alive


    for future generations something of the thinking that was so influential


    for my own intellectual orientation. Adorno


    A Biography


    Stefan Müller-Doohm


    translated by


    Rodney Livingstone


    polity Copyright © Polity Press 2005. This book was originally published as Adorno:


    Eine Biographie, copyright © Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2003.


    The right of Stefan Müller-Doohm to be identified as Author of this Work


    has been asserted in accordance with the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents


    Act 1988.


    First published in 2005 by Polity Press


    Polity Press


    65 Bridge Street


    Cambridge CB2 1UR, UK


    Polity Press


    350 Main Street


    Malden, MA 02148, USA


    All rights reserved. Except for the quotation of short passages for the purpose


    of criticism and review, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored


    in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic,


    mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior


    permission of the publisher.


    ISBN: 0-7456-3108-8


    ISBN: 0-7456-3109-6 (pb)


    A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.


    The publication of this work was supported by a grant from the


    Goethe Institut.


    Typeset in 10 on 11 pt Times


    by Graphicraft Limited, Hong Kong


    Printed and bound in Great Britain by MPG Books Ltd, Bodmin, Cornwall


    Every effort has been made to trace all copyright holders, but if any have


    been inadvertently overlooked the publishers will be pleased to include any


    necessary credits in any subsequent reprint or edition.


    For further information on Polity, visit our website: www.polity.co.uk Contents


    List of Figures viii


    List of Plates ix


    Preface xii


    Acknowledgements xiv


    Illustration Acknowledgements xvi


    Part I


    Origins: Family, Childhood and Youth:


    School and University in Frankfurt am Main


    Family Inheritance: A Picture of Contrasts 3


    1 Adorno’s Corsican Grandfather: Jean François, alias


    Giovanni Francesco 5


    • Fencing master Calvelli-Adorno in the Frankfurt suburb of


    Bockenheim 8


    2 Wiesengrund: The Jewish Heritage of his Father’s


    Romantic Name 13


    • A generous father and two musical mothers 15


    3 Between Oberrad and Amorbach 25


    • School experiences of a precocious youth 32


    • Arousing philosophical interests in the musical soul:


    Kracauer’s influence on Adorno 37


    4 Éducation sentimentale 52


    • First love and a number of affairs 55


    Part II


    A Change of Scene: Between Frankfurt, Vienna and Berlin:


    A Profusion of Intellectual Interests


    Commuting between Philosophy and Music 67


    5 Against the Stream: The City of Frankfurt and its University 69


    • First meeting with Max Horkheimer in the seminar on


    gestalt psychology 74 vi Contents


    6 A Man with Philosophical Qualities in the World of


    Viennese Music: The Danube Metropolis 82


    • Apprenticeship with his master and teacher 83


    7 In Search of a Career 95


    • Between philosophy and music: no parting of the ways 100


    8 Music Criticism and Compositional Practice 110


    • Theorizing the twelve-tone method: Adorno’s debate with


    Krenek 115


    9 Towards a Theory of Aesthetics 119


    • Rather more than a beginner’s foray into philosophy 125


    10 A Second Anomaly in Frankfurt: The Institute of Social


    Research 132


    • Two inaugural lectures 134


    • A Privatdozent in the shadow of Walter Benjamin 145


    • The Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung and Adorno’s ideological


    critique of music 150


    • In league with Horkheimer against a second school of


    sociology under the same roof 155


    • The opera project: The Treasure of Indian Joe 159


    Part III


    Emigration Years: An Intellectual in a Foreign Land


    A Twofold Exile: Intellectual Homelessness as Personal Fate 169


    11 The ‘Coordination’ of the National Socialist Nation


    and Adorno’s Reluctant Emigration 173


    • Hibernating with dignity? 181


    12 Between Academic and Authentic Concerns: From


    Philosophy Lecturer to Advanced Student in Oxford 187


    • Sticks and carrots 194


    • An abiding distaste: jazz as a tolerated excess 198


    • Setbacks... 203


    • ...and personal losses 207


    13 Writing Letters as an Aid to Philosophical


    Self-Clarification: Debates with Benjamin, Sohn-Rethel


    and Kracauer 214


    • A double relationship: Gretel and Max 226


    14 Learning by Doing: Adorno’s Path to Social Research 242


    • In the Institute of Social Research on Morningside Heights 255


    • Between two stools once again: a long road from New York


    to Los Angeles 267


    15 Happiness in Misfortune: Adorno’s Years in California 273


    • Messages in a bottle, or, How to create enlightenment about


    the Enlightenment 278 Contents vii


    • Merits of social research: studies in the authoritarian


    personality 288


    • Moral feelings in immoral times 298


    • The Privy Councillor: Adorno and Thomas Mann 311


    Part IV


    Thinking the Unconditional and Enduring the Conditional


    The Explosive Power of Saying No 325


    16 Change of Scene: Surveying the Ruins 328


    • Playing an active role in postwar Germany? 336


    • Back to America: horoscope analysis and TV research 348


    • Letting the cat out of the bag: Kafka, Beckett, Hölderlin 353


    17 Gaining Recognition for Critical Theory: Adorno’s


    Activities in the Late 1950s and Early 1960s 366


    • In the stream, but swimming against the tide 374


    • Speaking of the rope while in the country of the hangman 380


    • The crisis of the subject: self-preservation without a self 387


    • The purpose of life: understanding the language of music 392


    • Right living? Places, people, friendships 398


    18 Eating Bread: A Theory Devoured by Thought 412


    • The dispute about positivism: Via discourse to the


    Frankfurt School 421


    • Against German stuffiness 430


    • The fat child 433


    • What kind of a society do we live in? Adorno’s analysis of


    the present 441


    19 With his Back to the Wall 448


    • Patricide deferred 457


    • The futility of defending a theory as practice 460


    • Moments of happiness, despite everything 465


    • The divided nature of art 470


    • Death 474


    Epilogue: Thinking Against Oneself 481


    Notes 492


    References and Bibliography 615


    Index 645 List of Figures


    Figure 1 Bernhard Wiesengrund, wine wholesaler of


    Frankfurt am Main, extends a hearty invitation to


    its honoured guests 14


    Figure 2 Programme for the charity concert in which there


    were performances by Agathe and Louis


    Calvelli-Adorno 22


    Figure 3 Title page of the Musikblätter des Anbruch 47


    Figure 4 Score of the song ‘Rüsselmammuts Heimkehr’,


    for voice and piano, by Archibald Bauchschleifer 289


    Figure 5 A page of the Godesberger Programme of the


    SPD with Adorno’s annotations 418


    Figure 6 Notice of Adorno’s funeral 479


    Figure 7 Map of central Frankfurt showing the chief


    locations where Adorno lived and worked 488


    Figure 8 Genealogy of the Wiesengrund-Adorno family 490


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