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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