Aesthetic Theory (Theory and History of Literature)

Aesthetic Theory (Theory and History of Literature)

Theodor W. Adorno

Language: English

Pages: 416

ISBN: 0816618003

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Perhaps the most important aesthetics of the twentieth century appears here newly translated, in English that is for the first time faithful to the intricately demanding language of the original German. The culmination of a lifetime of aesthetic investigation, Aesthetic Theory is Theodor W. Adorno's magnum opus, the clarifying lens through which the whole of his work is best viewed, providing a framework within which his other major writings cohere.















Long before the ubiquitous crisis, open forms existed. In Mozart the unity of the work was occasionally playfully tested by its relaxation. By juxtaposing relatively disjointed or contrasting elements, Mozart, the composer who is praised above all others for the rigor of his form, masterfully juggles the concept of form itself. He is so sure of its strength that he effectively lets go the reins and, on the basis of the security of the construction itself, gives the lead to centrifugal forces. For

form; the concept of the blinding glare of beauty articulates this experience. The irresistibility of the beautiful, a sublimation of sexuality that extends into the highest artworks, is exerted by their purity, their distance from materiality and any concern with effect. This irresistibility becomes content [Inhalt]. With all the ambivalence of triumph, what subjugates expression—the formal character of beauty—is transformed into expression, in which what is menacing in the domination of nature

critical edge blunted and subsumed to the exchange relation such as is represented in the phrase "tourist industry," became insignificantly neutral and apologetic, and nature became a nature reserve and an alibi. Natural beauty is ideology where it serves to disguise mediatedness as immediacy. Even adequate experience of natural beauty obeys the complementary ideology of the unconscious. If in keeping with bourgeois standards it is chalked up as a special merit that someone has feeling for

At the end of this volume they have provided an afterword in which they describe in detail the state of the text at Adorno's death and how they constructed the present volume. As they point out, they could not rewrite passages even when the needed improvements were selfevident. And the intense philological pressures in a country whose Protestantism invented the discipline and where there are, for instance, left-wing and right-wing editions of Holderlin, prohibited the exclusion of even obviously

SEMBLANCE AND EXPRESSION 109 achieved. The complete absence of illusion regresses to chaotic regularity, in which accident and necessity renew their fatal pact. Art gains no power over semblance by its abolition. The semblance character of artworks sets their form of knowledge in opposition to the concept of knowledge in Kant's first critique. Artworks are semblance in that they externalize their interior, spirit, and they are only known insofar as, contrary to the prohibition laid down by the

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