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Hardback By Jörg Später, Daniel Steuer
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Siegfried Kracauer was one of the most important German thinkers of the twentieth century. His writings on Weimar culture, mass society, photography and film were groundbreaking and they anticipated many of the themes later developed members of the Frankfurt School and other cultural theorists.

   No less remarkable were the circumstances under which he made these contributions. After his early years as a journalist in Germany, the rise of the Nazis forced Kracauer into exile – first in Paris and then, after a protracted flight via Marseilles and Lisbon, to the United States. The existential challenges, personal losses and unrelenting hardship Kracauer faced during these years of exile formed the backdrop against which he offered his acute observations of modern life. Jörg Später provides the first comprehensive biography of this extraordinary man. Based on extensive archival research, Später’s biography expertly traces the key influences on Kracauer’s intellectual development and presents his most important works and ideas with great clarity.

  At the same time, Später ably documents the intensity of Kracauer’s personal relationships, the trauma of his flight and exile, and his embrace of his new homeland, where, finally, the ‘groundlessness’ of refugee existence gave way to a more stable life and, with it, some of the intellectually most fruitful years of Kracauer’s career. The result is a vivid portrait of a man driven both by an urge to capture reality – to attend to the things that are ‘overlooked or misjudged’, that still ‘lack a name’, as he put it – and by a need to find his place in a hostile, threatening world.

Product Details

Format: Hardback, 600 pages Language: English
Dimension: 150 x 51 x 231mm ISBN10: 150953301X
Weight: 1021g ISBN13: 9781509533015
Publication Date: 24 Jul 2020 Publisher: Polity Press

About Author

Jörg Später is a freelance writer and researcher at the University of Freiburg.

Product Reviews


“An impressive biography: accurate, fluent, displaying thorough knowledge and independent judgement, this is the first book to do justice to Kracauer.” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung “Später avoids simple description and banal interpretations and surprises the reader with careful, considered judgements, thus demonstrating what a biographer should fundamentally be: a courageous historian.” Thomas Meyer, Süddeutsche Zeitung "With his gorgeously written social biography of an allegedly marginal figure of Critical Theory, Siegfried Kracauer, historian Jörg Später delivers an epistemological perspective that allows the reader to grasp the world through its minutiae." Dan Diner, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem "It is a refreshing sign of modesty that Jörg Später calls his study on the life and work of Siegfried Kracauer only a biography. What Später instead does in this masterfully written book is to reconstruct the intellectual trajectory of a thinker who, despite all personal and historical difficulties, was able to create by combining observational skills, sociological knowledge and philosophical profundity one of the most original oeuvres within the tradition of Critical Theory. Thanks to the author of this intellectual biography, Kracauer steps out of the long shadow of the Frankfurt School and becomes a critical theorist in his own right." Axel Honneth, Columbia University"Später’s book . . . will be the definitive biography of Kracauer for many years to come."The Jewish Chronicle “magnificent”Jewish Currents‘a very sound and well-constructed… life-story. And Kracauer's really was quite a fascinating life.

’The Complete Review“It is a book that already assumes a fairly complete grasp of the intellectual parameters within which they worked.”Ruben David-Hillel, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, University of London


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