Stranger from Abroad: Hannah Arendt, Martin Heidegger, Friendship and Forgiveness

Stranger from Abroad: Hannah Arendt, Martin Heidegger, Friendship and Forgiveness

3.5 2
by Daniel Maier-Katkin

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Two titans of twentieth-century thought: their lives, loves, ideas, and politics.  See more details below


Two titans of twentieth-century thought: their lives, loves, ideas, and politics.

Editorial Reviews

“Starred Review. Readers welcoming diverse perspectives will benefit from this inquiry into a relationship uniquely freighted with historical meaning.”
Rebecca Newberger Goldstein
“Few relationships are more mysterious than that between Arendt and Heidegger. More interesting than their brief love affair when she was his young student is the attitude she took toward him in her maturity. Despite his Nazi affiliation, she refused to write him out of her life and out of intellectual history. This is a humane, judicious, and utterly absorbing account of Heidegger's role in Arendt's life and thought.”
Vivian Gornick
“An excellent introduction to the story of one of the most dramatic and fascinating relationships of the twentieth century.”
Ronald Florence
“A useful counterpoint to the recent debates about Heidegger's relationship to Nazi ideology, and whether [Arendt's] admiration for Heidegger informed her thinking about the Holocaust and her formulation of the 'banality of evil.'”
Philip Jenkins
“It's one thing to study the ideological debates that so traumatized twentieth century Europe, and quite another to explore them on a painfully human scale. Through the interlocking lives of two enormously influential individuals, Maier-Katkin's book illuminates the intellectual and moral struggles of the era. The book is at once impressive in its breadth of historical vision, and richly textured in its psychological portraits.”
Jeff VanderMeer
“Dan Maier-Katkin has written a uniquely fascinating book that manages to capture the passions and intellectual complexity of a relationship but also the complexity of the world and events surrounding that relationship. I was profoundly moved by the book. It is rare that an author can care so intensely about a subject and yet have enough distance to write about it so well. I loved the book and can't recommend it highly enough.”
Publishers Weekly
A competent if pedestrian account of the relationship between two major figures of 20th-century philosophy that focuses on the influence of their friendship upon Arendt’s intellectual development. Tracing their bond from when the young Arendt was Heidegger’s student and subsequently his lover, Maier-Katkin, professor of criminology at Florida State University, offers an intellectual biography of the Jewish political philosopher whose preoccupations included pluralism, injustice, and the nature of evil, against the background of her lifelong connection with a thinker whose own history was marred by involvement with Nazism. The author is admirably evenhanded in his assessment of this dimension of Heidegger’s life, but his sympathy clearly lies with Arendt, whose writings, in particular her prescient essays on Israel and her account of the Adolf Eichmann trial, he passionately defends. Overall, the book offers little insight into either of its subjects, relying too much on previous biographies and synopses of Arendt’s major writings. The author’s guiding insight, that Arendt’s friendship with Heidegger exemplifies her notions of thoughtfulness and forgiveness, is compelling but regrettably underdeveloped. But at its best the book offers a fascinating snapshot of the divergent ways two towering intellects responded to the 20th century’s darkest moments. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Personal interest seems to have motivated Maier-Katkin (criminology, Florida State Univ.) to research and recapitulate the relationship between Nazification-prone Heidegger and his Jewish protogée. Maier-Katkin keeps at least one of the two center stage as he works through developments and changes in world events, from the onset of their love affair when she was a student, and evolving philosophical interests held by each of them and their contemporaries. Heidegger's personal and political opportunism, and Arendt's struggles to be what she would consider fair in her dealings with all are made accessible to popular readers in this version of their joint and separate lives. VERDICT This is more a joint biography than a comparison and contrast of philosophical theory. As such, it is best suited to readers in public and undergraduate libraries.—Francisca Goldsmith, Halifax P.L., NS
Kirkus Reviews
Two of the 20th-century's great thinkers become entangled in romance, the Holocaust, estrangement and reconciliation. In 1924, Hannah Arendt (1906-1965) was a student of Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) at the University of Marburg in Germany. Although he was married and a father, their relationship quickly became intimate as well as intellectual, and it endured-with long hiatuses, some angry, some merely neglectful, and fundamental alterations-until her death. Although Maier-Katkin (Criminology and Criminal Justice/Florida State Univ.) declares "very weak" the evidence of Heidegger's anti-Semitism and his involvement with the Nazis before they assumed control of the country, he joined the party in 1933 and allowed them to use his name and considerable scholarly prestige to help legitimize their dominion. In 1936 he was still wearing the party's lapel pin, though the Nazi authorities, skeptical about his loyalty, never granted him the audience with Hitler he'd once sought. Meanwhile, Arendt-who had completed her doctorate-and her family fled to France, managing through her connections to obtain visas for the United States. They arrived in 1941. Early in the narrative, Maier-Katkin alternates between the two principals, charting their romantic lives, marriages, scholarly work and publications. But after Arendt's arrival in the United States, the story becomes hers. Although she knew little English, she soon mastered it and had early editorial jobs before commencing her distinguished teaching and writing careers. The author is an advocate for both Heidegger and Arendt-though he is far harder on the former, calling the philosopher's actions "shameful"-and he provides a lengthy defense ofArendt's most controversial work, Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963), and its analysis of what she called "the banality of evil," a phrase that continues to foment fiery debate nearly a half-century later. Thoroughly researched, but often reads like a sympathetic, tendentious lawyer's brief.

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Product Details

Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
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5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.50(d)

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