Artifacts of Thinking: Reading Hannah Arendt's Denktagebuch

Artifacts of Thinking: Reading Hannah Arendt's Denktagebuch

Artifacts of Thinking: Reading Hannah Arendt's Denktagebuch

Artifacts of Thinking: Reading Hannah Arendt's Denktagebuch

Synopsis

Artifacts of Thinking: Reading Arendt's "Denktagebuch" offers a path through Hannah Arendt's recently published Denktagebuch, or "Book of Thoughts." In this book a number of innovative Arendt scholars come together to ask how we should think about these remarkable writings in the context of Arendt's published writing and broader political thinking.

Unique in its form, the Denktagebuch offers brilliant insights into Arendt's practice of thinking and writing. Artifacts of Thinking provides an introduction to the Denktagebuch as well as a glimpse of these fascinating but untranslated fragments that reveal not only Arendt's understanding of "the life of the mind" but her true lived experience of it.

Excerpt

Ian Storey

Hannah Arendt’s intellectual diary, her Denktagebuch, is a unique record of an intellectual life and one of the most fascinating and compelling archives of twentieth- century literature, political thought, and philosophy. Comprising twenty- eight handwritten notebooks—primarily in German but partly in English and Greek—the Denktagebuch begins in 1950 and trails into sporadic notes in the early 1970s. By far the majority of entries, ranging from personal reflections to dense, argumentative engagements with other thinkers, are from the 1950s and 1960s. in these two decades, during which Arendt published The Human Condition, Between Past and Future, Men in Dark Times, On Revolution, and Eichmann in Jerusalem, as well as a number of essays, the Denktagebuch makes evident how closely Arendt read the works of her interlocutors, records previously hidden sources, and displays the dynamic, evolving nature of Arendt’s thinking.

Neither an Augustinian confessional nor an autobiography like those of Virginia Wolff, still less a narrative journal like the diaries of Samuel Pepys or Andy Warhol, the Denktagebuch is an uneasy fit in familiar literary categories. It is far more structured than the collection of musings and quotations that comprise Thomas Jefferson’s commonplace book, but less formal . . .

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