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Essays in Understanding: 1930-1954

Essays in Understanding: 1930-1954

by Hannah Arendt, Jerome Kohn (Editor)

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This invigorating collection of Arendt's essays, lectures and reviews opens with a 1964 interview in which the noted political scientist and philosopher described her hair-raising escape in 1933 from Nazi Germany to Paris, then New York City. A central theme of these pieces, gathered from Partisan Review , the Nation and elsewhere, is the power of ideology to blind its adherents, whether in the service of Nazi or communist totalitarianism. Arendt (1906-1975) characterizes fascism as an antinationalist global movement inextricably linked to anti-Semitism. Elsewhere, she criticizes Sartre and Camus for nihilistic thinking. This first of three volumes of Arendt's uncollected works includes essays on Kafka's nightmare world, Kierkegaard, Augustine's Confessions as prototype of the modern psychological novel, Berlin cutural salons of the 1790s (which were open to Jewish women and men), the threat of nuclear war and Europe's image of the U.S. as a rootless nation. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Hannah Arendt sometimes denied that she was a philosopher, but these essays tell us why she may be remembered as the quintessential philosopher of our time. A German Jewish woman, she grew up in a country rich in thought and culture but unable to protect simple human decency. She fled to America, where political life was still possible but intellectuals were regarded as performers in a mental circus--entertaining but of little ultimate importance. To bring the two together, Arendt defined herself as a political theorist. But these essays show the roots of her political theory deep in the Western past; St. Augustine and Kant above all are visible. Her essays light up issues--the emancipation of women, federalism in eastern Europe, and many others--in a way that often makes them seem as if they were written yesterday. Briefly the mistress of Heidegger (noted here as a ``fox'' who ``built a trap as his burrow'') and the lifelong friend of Jaspers, she never became the prisoner of any movement. None of these essays is technical, and the translations are lucid. This first of three volumes of her uncollected or unpublished essays should have a place in any sizable library.-- Leslie Armour, Univ. of Ottawa
Alice Joyce
Hannah Arendt, distinguished writer, teacher, and humanist, died in 1975. Although she considered herself to be a political theorist and not a philosopher, from her earliest years her primary intellectual activity was that of seeking "to understand." In this collection of articles and essays--spanning nearly 25 years--Arendt exhibits a decidedly philosophical nature and the global concerns of a political scientist. Existentialism, Kierkegaard, and Kafka are featured topics. The "German problem," fascism, and the horrors of Nazism all come under the scrutiny of this exhilarating thinker, who tackled issues most crucial to life in the middle decades of the twentieth century, and to contemporary life as well. Two more volumes of Arendt's unpublished works are to follow later.

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Publication date:
Edition description:
1st ed
Product dimensions:
6.42(w) x 9.51(h) x 1.68(d)

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