Art and Enlightenment: Aesthetic Theory after Adorno

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $11.50
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 36%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (9) from $11.50   
  • New (6) from $13.72   
  • Used (3) from $11.50   


The crisis of tradition early in the twentieth century-signaled by the collapse of perspective in painting and tonality in music and evident in the explosive ferment of the avant-garde movements-opened a new stage of modern art, which aesthetic theory is still struggling to comprehend. David Roberts situates the current aesthetic and cultural debates in a wider historical frame which extends from Hegel and the German Romantics to Lukács and Adorno, Benjamin and Baudrillard. Art and Enlightenment: Aesthetic Theory after Adorno is the first detailed analysis in English of Theodor Adorno's seminal Philosophy of Modern Music, which can be seen as a turning point between modern and postmodern art and theory.

Adorno's diagnosis of the crisis of modernist values points back to Hegel's thesis of the end of art and also forward to the postmodernist debate. Thus the paradoxes of Adorno's negative aesthetics return to haunt the current discussion by representatives of the second generation of the Frankfurt School, Anglo-American Marxism, and French poststructuralism. Going beyond Adorno's dialectic of musical enlighten-ment, Roberts proposes an alternative model of the enlightenment, of art applied to literature and exemplified in the outline of a theory of parody. In its critique of Adorno, Art and Enlightenment clears the way for a reconsideration of twentieth-century artistic theory and practice and also, in offering a model of postmodern art, seeks to disentangle critical issues in the discussion of the avant-garde, modernism, and postmodernism.

David Roberts, Reader in German at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, is coeditor of the journal Thesis Eleven. He is the author of The Indirections of Desire: Hamlet in Goethe's "Wilhelm Meister" (1980) and other books.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

German Studies Review

"A very stimulating, educative asset for all scholars of German art history, philosophy, music, and literature who are interested in the postmodern paradigm shift."—German Studies Review
Martin Jay

"An extremely timely and original assessment of the current state of aesthetic theory, or, more precisely, aesthetic practice as reflected in that theory. Using Adorno's analysis of modern music as his starting point, Roberts constructs a model of twentieth-century artistic developments and their theoretical implications that draws on and criticizes a wide variety of important contemporary thinkers. The subject touches on many of the central issues now surrounding the heated international debate over postmodernism."—Martin Jay, author of Adorno.
Library Journal
Theodor Adorno's Philosophy of Modern Music was a key work in the attempt to bring aesthetic theory to modern art. Using Adorno's text as a centerpiece for critical analysis, Roberts places 20th-century aesthetic debates within a framework ranging backwards in time to Hegel and forward to the present postmodern period. Roberts has done a superb job here, and this book should win a solid place in the philosophy of art. The reader should be warned, however, that it is not easy going: Roberts assumes a fairly deep knowledge on the part of those approaching his book. But for those properly prepared, the effort will be well rewarded. Recommended for specialists in the field and for graduate programs in the philosophy of art.-- Terry Skeats, Bishop's Univ., Lennoxville, Quebec
Read More Show Less

Product Details

Meet the Author

David Roberts, Reader in German at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, is coeditor of the journal Thesis Eleven. He is the author of The Indirections of Desire: Hamlet in Goethe’s "Wilhelm Meister" (1980) and other books.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)