Siegfried Kracauer: An Introduction

Siegfried Kracauer: An Introduction

Siegfried Kracauer: An Introduction

Siegfried Kracauer: An Introduction

Synopsis

"Gertrud Koch has written a most lucid and much-needed analytical introduction to the diverse work of Siegfried Kracauer. Her study is brief yet comprehensive, both precise and incisive, deferent to previous scholarship yet never derivative. Koch's book is decidedly original in its sensitivity to recurrent metaphors (especially spatial images) that provide crucial points of orientation and focus throughout Kracauer's complex oeuvre."--Eric Rentschler, Harvard University

"Gertrud Koch's probing, sensitive, and demanding study of the work of Siegfried Kracauer is the first such sustained analysis of the wide range of Kracauer's writings in any language. The book represents the state of the art of scholarship on Kracauer, fully conversant with the extensive published works, the fascinating unpublished archival holdings in Marbach, and the wide range of secondary Kracauer literature in both German and English."--Thomas Y. Levin, Princeton University

Excerpt

Usually, introductions are written about those authors (and works) who have been so widely discussed that a summarizing overview of the various interpretations of his or her work appears desirable. It would therefore seem high time to introduce readers to Siegfried Kracauer the author. Having said this, it is still too early to write an introduction. This book can only claim to be a provisional attempt. Although the collected edition of his works is not yet complete, his estate, housed in the Marbach Literary Archive near Stuttgart, is well cataloged, and on both sides of the Atlantic there have been significant attempts to bring Kracauer out from behind the shadows cast by his friends of the Frankfurt School.

About a decade ago I held a seminar where I presented texts by Kracauer and I later mentioned the course to Leo Lowenthal, a close friend of his. Lowenthal, who was at the time besieged by scholars writing histories of the Frankfurt School, was somewhat astonished. He had hardly imagined that his friend “Friedel” would suddenly emerge as a big name on the academic scene. Years later it was he who opened one of the very first conferences devoted to Kracauer, held at Columbia University. Yet the distance with which the friends of his youth in Frankfurt eventually treated Kracauer's work was still evident in Lowenthal's response. With the benefit of hindsight, distances can shrink into differences within a common overall project. the room that Kracauer has been allocated in the Frankfurt School is sparse. There are, however, other reasons, too, why I am not quite clear whether Kracauer was ever really at home in it or whether in some phases of his life he would not have liked to take his seat there. Kracauer's notion of “exterritoriality” can perhaps magically be brought to bear here; yet he did not have much more or much less luck than others associated with the Frankfurt School. the extent to which he distanced himself from it can be gleaned from his own writings. the historians and philologists will do their part in measuring what joint space these thinkers occupied . . .

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