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Ruth Klüger

Reflections on Auschwitz

Birgit Maier-Katkin

Austrian-born Ruth Klüger was a teenager when she and her mother were deported first to the concentration camp at Theresienstadt, then to Auschwitz, and later to Christianstadt. This article examines Klüger's memoir weiter leben in which she records her memories and assessments of her experience in these concentration camps. It considers her critical stance toward the postwar Holocaust memory culture and focuses on Klüger's relationship with German thought and language. In particular, during her imprisonment in Auschwitz, German poetry played an important role in her survival. This offers new insight into Theodor Adorno's statement (which he later retracted) that “Writing poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.“ As questions about German identity are raised, this article suggests a discourse about the Holocaust from within German culture and points to questions about the intricate relationship of a shared cultural background between victim and perpetrator.

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Walter Benjamin

The Consolation of History in a Paris Exile

Patrick H. Hutton

Walter Benjamin, a Jewish German literary critic of modest reputation during the interwar years, has become an intellectual celebrity in our times. In flight from Nazi Germany, he took refuge in Paris during the 1930s before dying in 1940 in a vain effort to escape to America. In this essay, I analyze his ideas as conceived in his Paris exile, with particular attention to his turn to the topics of memory and of history and of the relationship between them. I close with some thoughts on how his ideas about memory's redeeming power played into the humanist Marxism of the intellectuals of the 1960s and subsequently the preoccupation with memory in late twentieth-century scholarship.

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Re-reading 'Impossibility' and 'Barbarism'

Adorno and Post-Holocaust Poetics

Antony Rowland

‘Poetry is impossible after Auschwitz.’ This (supposed) statement by Theodor Adorno has become one of the most famous in twentiethcentury philosophy. It has been popularised in verbal academic discourse, which has lead to its inclusion in, for example, numerous module outlines on post-war literature. However, such appropriations have ignored the fact that the phrase is a misquotation of the standard translation by the Webers in Prisms. Moreover, within the passage from which the misquotation originates, there are linguistic ambiguities embedded in the original German which make the essay ‘Cultural Criticism and Society’ difficult to interpret. In turn, this initiates a struggle to formulate a coherent English translation. These problems are elided by critics who, even if they quote the Webers’ translation accurately, do not consider the ramifications of the original German prose. In this essay, I engage with these elisions, and contend that Adorno’s text does not argue that ‘poetry is impossible after Auschwitz.’ In fact, the passage predicates its existence, a contention which has serious repercussions for discussions of post-war writing conducted in the context of the philosopher’s work.

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Antony Rowland

An ontological need persisted in the writing of Ted Hughes, and continues in critical responses to it. This has manifested itself in various forms: Leonard Scijay detects a ‘mystical consciousness of the oneness of Creation’; in his recent book The Laughter of Foxes: A Study of Ted Hughes, Keith Sagar eulogises the ‘inner being’ of the poet. Although different, these descriptions share a vague appreciation of Hughesian ‘Being’ (or ‘Existenz’): Scijay has located it more specifically in Eastern metaphysics, Zen, and the Japanese concept of satori (the ‘totalistic unity with the infinite’). Critics have mostly agreed that Hughes does not adhere to an existentialist rewriting of Existenz, but they have not always responded generously to the various depictions of Being: Eric Homberger detects the Nazi conception of Rausch in the poet’s ‘fascistic exaltation of violence for its own sake’. More recently, critics more sympathetic to Hughes have attempted to locate Existenz elsewhere. Dwight Eddins recognises der Wille in the ‘universal force-field’ confronted in the poetry; Joanny Moulin uncovers the moments in which the narrators experience the imprint of the Lacanian ‘real’ in empirical reality. All these different critical perspectives have provided valuable insights into Hughes’s writing: it cannot be denied that the vigour of his work arises partly from its engagement with metaphysics of presence. Perhaps what could be added to this body of criticism is a critique of ontology itself. The possibility remains that a requirement persists in Hughes’s poetry to locate a form of Being that has been invented in order to find it. In Negative Dialectics Theodor Adorno describes such an ontological need as a manifestation of ‘peephole metaphysics’.

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Sarah Wiliarty and Louise K. Davidson-Schmich

into the Bundestag. Starting at the societal level, Annika Orich's “Archival Resistance: Reading the New Right” examines instances of cultural resistance to the AfD. She studies four such examples including the 2019 re-publication of Theodor Adorno

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Close to You

Karen Carpenter and the Body-Martyr in Queer Memory

Julian Binder

study as alternative and considered as pushing against the mainstream. Taking after Theodor Adorno's 1941 essay “On Popular Music,” Jarman-Ivens writes that this illusion of oppositionality merely plays into the pseudo-individualistic “fiction of novelty

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Green Fields and Blue Roads

The Melancholy of the Girl Walker in Irish Women’s Fiction

Maureen O’Connor

Kristeva and Theodor Adorno, the latter of whom she considers the first philosopher of ‘embodied materialism’. 16 The girls in these texts are living in the ‘fork of contradiction’ Salleh describes and suffer the resulting ‘nonidentity’ – that is, a

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When Was Brexit? Reading Backward to the Present

Antoinette Burton

is to turn away from the critical task of working through the past, which is incumbent on all historians. Here, I mean “working through the past” in the sense that Theodor Adorno invokes it: not as a way of exorcising demons or externalizing the

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Natural Sciences and Social Sciences

Where Do the Twain Meet?

C. S. A. (Kris) van Koppen

to critical theory, as elaborated by Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, and most comprehensively by Jürgen Habermas. However, as Jetzkowitz demonstrates, Habermas sets an a priori restriction on the relations between humans and nature. The

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Leyla Neyzi, Nida Alahmad, Nina Gren, Martha Lagace, Chelsey Ancliffe, and Susanne Bregnbæk

Syria, the migrant crisis in Europe, the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, and so on brought him to reconsider the relevance of critical thinkers—in particular, Hannah Arendt, Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, and Karl Jaspers