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Grand Hotel Abyss : the lives of the Frankfurt School

by Jeffries, Stuart, 1962-

Format: Print Book 2016
Availability: Available at 2 Libraries 2 of 2 copies
Available (2)
Location Collection Call #
CLP - Main Library Mezzanine - Non-fiction HM467.J44 2016
Location  CLP - Main Library
Collection  Mezzanine - Non-fiction
Call Number  HM467.J44 2016
Northland Public Library Nonfiction 301.01 J38
Location  Northland Public Library
Collection  Nonfiction
Call Number  301.01 J38
This brilliant group biography asks who were the Frankfurt School and why they matter today

In 1923, a group of young radical German thinkers and intellectuals came together to at Victoria Alle 7, Frankfurt, determined to explain the workings of the modern world. Among the most prominent members of what became the Frankfurt School were the philosophers Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, and Herbert Marcuse. Not only would they change the way we think, but also the subjects we deem worthy of intellectual investigation. Their lives, like their ideas, profoundly, sometimes tragically, reflected and shaped the shattering events of the twentieth century.

Grand Hotel Abyss combines biography, philosophy, and storytelling to reveal how the Frankfurt thinkers gathered in hopes of understanding the politics of culture during the rise of fascism. Some of them, forced to escape the horrors of Nazi Germany, later found exile in the United States. Benjamin, with his last great work--the incomplete Arcades Project --in his suitcase, was arrested in Spain and committed suicide when threatened with deportation to Nazi-occupied France. On the other side of the Atlantic, Adorno failed in his bid to become a Hollywood screenwriter, denounced jazz, and even met Charlie Chaplin in Malibu.

After the war, there was a resurgence of interest in the School. From the relative comfort of sun-drenched California, Herbert Marcuse wrote the classic One Dimensional Man , which influenced the 1960s counterculture and thinkers such as Angela Davis; while in a tragic coda, Adorno died from a heart attack following confrontations with student radicals in Berlin.

By taking popular culture seriously as an object of study--whether it was film, music, ideas, or consumerism--the Frankfurt School elaborated upon the nature and crisis of our mass-produced, mechanised society. Grand Hotel Abyss shows how much these ideas still tell us about our age of social media and runaway consumption.
Published Reviews
Publisher's Weekly Review: "In his erudite group biography of the thinkers who formed the core of the Frankfurt Institute of Social Research, English journalist Jeffries alternates between revealing the lives of these men and recounting the development of critical theory, the Frankfurt School's most notable contribution to philosophy. Dividing the history of the Frankfurt Institute into decades, Jeffries effectively demonstrates how the school responded to the historical challenges of the 20th century. The school was founded in 1923 as an institute devoted to the application of Marxism as a scientific methodology, and it soon turned its critical eye to the rise of fascism. Although ostensibly Marxist, its members were heterodox and had little faith in the workers' revolution. With few exceptions, they were also pessimists who did little to put their theories into action. After WWII, its thinkers-Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Herbert Marcuse, Erich Fromm, et. al.-began to challenge the culture of denial in Germany and the hegemony of post-war capitalism, an effort that, under Jürgen Habermas's direction, turned the Frankfurt Institute into a startlingly pro-democratic institution towards the end of the century. Jeffries writes in lucid prose and offers frequent asides situating these thinkers in modern contexts and issues, but the relevance of these men's work often speaks for itself. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."

Additional Information
Subjects Frankfurt school of sociology -- History.
Critical theory -- History -- 20th century.
Frankfurt school of sociology -- Biography.
Sociologists -- Germany -- Biography.
Philosophers -- Germany -- Biography.
Sociology -- Germany -- History -- 20th century.
Germany -- Intellectual life -- 20th century.
Publisher London :2016
Language English
Description 440 pages ; 25 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 393-428) and index.
ISBN 9781784785680
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