Language Without Soil

9780823231263: Hardback
Release Date: 18th November 2009

9780823231270: Paperback
Release Date: 18th November 2009

Dimensions: 152.4 x 228.6

Number of Pages: 288

Fordham University Press

Language Without Soil

Adorno and Late Philosophical Modernity

Edited by
Gerhard Richter
Hardback / £74.00
Paperback / £27.99

Theodor W. Adorno's multifaceted work has exerted a profound impact on far-ranging discourses and critical practices in late modernity. His analysis of the fate of art following its alleged end, of ethical imperatives "after Auschwitz," of the negative dialectic of myth and freedom from superstition, of the manipulation of consciousness by the unequal siblings of fascism and the culture industry, and of the narrowly-conceived concept of reason that has given rise to an unprecedented exploitation of nature and needless human suffering, all speak to central concerns of our time.

The essays collected here analyze the full range of implications emanating from Adorno's demand that the task of critical thinking be to imagine a mode of being in the world that occurs in and through a language that has liberated itself from the spell of an alleged historical and political inevitability, what he once tellingly called a "language without soil."

Adorno' s finely chiseled sentences perform a ceaseless gesture of thoughtful vigilance, a vigilance understood not in the sense of moralizing or ethical normativity but of a rigorous attention to the presuppositions of thinking itself. The volume's fresh readings conspire to yield a refractory and unorthodox Adorno, a suggestive and at times infuriating thinker of the first order, whose intellectual gestures sponsor politically conscious modes of theoretical speculation in a late modernity that may still have a future because its language and aspirations are without soil.

Also included is an annotated translation of a seminal interview Adorno gave in 1969 concerning the relationship of Critical Theory to political activism. In it, the dialectical interplay between thought and action forcefully emerges.

Gerhard Richter is Professor of German Studies and Comparative Literature at Brown University. His most recent books include Inheriting Walter Benjamin and Afterness: Figures of Following in Modern Thought and Aesthetics.

This is a magical volume. These beautiful essays transform the most canonical works of Adorno from monuments we thought we knew into opportunities for future thought. The Adorno of this volume is neither a matter of the past nor a straightforward thought machine, but rather an intricate, challenging, searching plurality of voices that are, at times, at odds with each other. In other words, this is a new Adorno, an Adorno not yet known to us, not yet explored, and an Adorno not yet complete. This new Adorno is a matter of the future, of reading, and discovery.

—Fritz Breithaupt
Indiana University

A very thoughtfully comprised and well executed collection with a number
of insightful contributions that individually and as a whole open up new perspectives in Adorno scholarship.

—Eva Geulen
University of Bonn