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Against Solitude

Martin Jay: Karl Jaspers, 8 June 2006

Karl Jaspers, a Biography: Navigations in Truth 
by Suzanne Kirkbright.
Yale, 352 pp., £25, November 2004, 0 300 10242 9
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... giants of 20th-century German philosophy – Husserl, Heidegger, Gadamer, Adorno, Habermas, Arendt, Cassirer and Wittgenstein (I’m including Austrians) – he has faded from the canon. At least in the English-speaking world, Jaspers is now remembered more for his writings on other thinkers, such as Nietzsche or Weber, and his complex friendships with ...

Big Pod

Richard Poirier: How Podhoretz Dumped His Friends, 2 September 1999

by Norman Podhoretz.
Free Press, 256 pp., $25, February 1999, 0 684 85594 1
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... from the early Fifties until the early Seventies: Allen Ginsberg, Lionel and Diana Trilling, Hannah Arendt, Lillian Hellman and Norman Mailer. It was in the early years of this same period, the first five years of the Sixties, that what was often called the Family, a closely allied group of mostly New York intellectuals who published largely in ...

Against Passion

James Meek: Passionate Politics, 30 November 2017

The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics 
by Mark Lilla.
Harper, 160 pp., £19, August 2017, 978 0 06 269743 1
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The Shipwrecked Mind: On Political Reaction 
by Mark Lilla.
NYRB, 166 pp., £9.99, September 2016, 978 1 59017 902 4
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... about great thinkers gone bad, and it is in his account of the relationship between Heidegger, Hannah Arendt and Karl Jaspers that his sense of the proper boundaries of philosophy emerges more clearly, along with his fascination for what happens when they are violated.The three first intersected in Germany in the 1920s, when Heidegger was the ...

Author’s Editor

A. Alvarez, 24 January 1980

... of time catching up on subjects and authors he thought he should know about: Tinbergen, Winnicott, Hannah Arendt. This, too, made him a natural for Penguin. A large number of people survive by getting their food from Sainsbury, their clothes from Marks and Spencer and their culture from Penguin. Godwin knew this and took Penguin’s cultural ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Meaney: Ersatz Tyrants, 4 May 2017

... word, ‘beautiful’?), but as Corey Robin has pointed out, the lesson of Snyder’s hero Hannah Arendt is that we shouldn’t attend to what Trump says so much as to what he does. Snyder’s book started off last November as a Facebook post when Trump’s words were all we had to go on, but that is no excuse for the absence of a political ...

Silent Partner

Yitzhak Laor: Israel’s War, 8 May 2003

... of the mob was only the language of public opinion cleansed of hypocrisy and restraint,’ Hannah Arendt once wrote, in connection with the demise of law in the face of a threat to the national interest. Here in Israel, as in the US, the language of the mob and of public opinion have converged: there is no restraint; there are no euphemisms. No ...

Short Cuts

William Davies: Reasons to be Cheerful, 18 July 2019

... cultural possibility seem to open up as a result. The political liar ‘is an actor by nature’, Hannah Arendt said. ‘He says what is not so because he wants things to be different from what they are – that is, he wants to change the world … Our ability to lie – but not necessarily our ability to tell the truth – belongs among the few ...

Sour Plums

John Lanchester, 26 October 1989

The Letters of John Cheever 
edited by Benjamin Cheever.
Cape, 397 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 224 02689 5
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Mary McCarthy 
by Carol Gelderman.
Sidgwick, 430 pp., £12.95, March 1989, 0 283 99797 4
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The company she keeps 
by Mary McCarthy.
Weidenfeld, 246 pp., £4.50, October 1989, 0 297 79649 6
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... and kicking, giving offence and charming people. One person to whom McCarthy gave offence was Hannah Arendt, with whom she had an exchange at a party (again) at Philip Rahv’s (again) flat in 1945. ‘Amazed that Hitler was so uncomprehending as to have longed for the Parisians’ love during the German occupation ... McCarthy said that she felt ...

Simple Facts and Plain Truths

David A. Bell: Common Sense, 20 October 2011

Common Sense: A Political History 
by Sophia Rosenfeld.
Harvard, 337 pp., £22.95, 0 674 05781 3
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... and powerful work that it does.’ Yet she also examines the attempts by Hans-Georg Gadamer and Hannah Arendt to find a constructive place for common sense in contemporary culture and politics. She points to Arendt’s praise, in On Revolution, of the New England town meeting, and notes how ...

His Generation

Keith Gessen: A Sad Old Literary Man, 19 June 2008

Alfred Kazin: A Biography 
by Richard Cook.
Yale, 452 pp., £25, March 2008, 978 0 300 11505 5
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... high-minded, but he does tell us of two weeks Kazin spent on Cape Cod in the summer of 1950 with Hannah Arendt and her husband, Heinrich Bluecher, and Arendt’s friend Rose Feitelson, improving the English of Origins of Totalitarianism. That book is amazingly fluent and epigrammatic for a German émigré, and one ...

For and against Romanistan

Nicholas Xenos, 22 August 1996

Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and their Journey 
by Isabel Fonseca.
Chatto, 322 pp., £18.99, October 1995, 0 7011 3851 3
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... or ‘devouring’, solely on the basis of their race. There is a sad irony in the story retold by Hannah Arendt in Eichmann in Jerusalem of a question raised with the prosecuting counsel by the Dutch writer Harry Mulisch, who asked: ‘Would the death of the Jews have been less of an evil if they were a people without a culture, such as the Gypsies who ...


Peter Pulzer: In East Berlin, 19 April 1990

... and sociology, nothing indeed has seemed to be more safely buried than the concept of freedom,’ Hannah Arendt has written. ‘Crucial to the understanding of revolutions in the modern age is that the idea of freedom and the experience of a new beginning should coincide.’ In that sense it was a true revolution. Revolutions, ...

Trump’s America, Netanyahu’s Israel

Adam Shatz: Actually Existing Zionism, 9 May 2019

... last year, aged 94. But these ‘Zionists’ do not represent actually existing Zionism. In 1948, Hannah Arendt, whose critique of territorial Zionism owed much to Ahad Ha’am, warned that after the Arab-Israeli war the ‘victorious’ Jews would live surrounded by a hostile Arab population, secluded inside ever-threatened borders, preoccupied by ...

From Soixante-Huit to Soixante-Neuf

Glen Newey: Slack-Sphinctered Pachyderm, 29 April 1999

Collected Papers: Technology, War and Fascism 
by Herbert Marcuse, edited by Douglas Kellner.
Routledge, 278 pp., £25, March 1998, 0 415 13780 2
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The Contract of Mutual Indifference: Political Philosophy after the Holocaust 
by Norman Geras.
Verso, 181 pp., £15, June 1998, 1 85984 868 0
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... personality’ dogma of such Frankfurt School existentialists as Theodor Adorno and Hannah Arendt, is derived from the same axiomatic assumptions as Marcuse’s and Hofstadter’s ban on ‘conspiracy theories’. Since the name of Marcuse connotes the cases of Karl Korsch, the Communist Party’s Angela Davis, and the origins of the ...

Holocaust Art

Robert Taubman, 10 January 1983

Schindler’s Ark 
by Thomas Keneally.
Hodder, 432 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 340 27838 2
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... Goeth of Plaszow – display the same indistinguishable Ordinariness as Adolf Eichmann, to whom Hannah Arendt devoted her ‘Report on the Banality of Evil’. What makes them so fantastic is reckoning their ordinariness against their deeds. The accounts are no help in understanding them, for they can only be represented as unbelievable. Lalka’s ...

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