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Aesthetic Theory (Theory and History of Literature #88)

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  1,747 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
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 be ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published August 12th 1998 by Univ Of Minnesota Press (first published 1970)
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Introductory Lectures on Aesthetics by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich HegelCritique of Judgment by Immanuel KantThe Age of Insight by Eric R. KandelAesthetic Theory by Theodor W. AdornoPoetry, Language, Thought by Martin Heidegger
Aesthetics: The Philosophy of Art
4th out of 92 books — 46 voters
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy BlumeThe Crystal Cave by Mary StewartBury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown84, Charing Cross Road by Helene HanffThe Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Best Books of 1970
42nd out of 143 books — 49 voters

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Scott Gates
Nov 19, 2010 Scott Gates rated it really liked it
Do not let the title mislead you: This is not light reading.

Aesthetic Theory is like an endless search for what exactly art is. Why do people bother making music, writing, painting. What is art trying to accomplish, why is it there at all. Art is the elusive main character that nearly four hundred pages of dense theory attempts to grasp.

On a grand level art, according to Adorno, is (1) against the world and polemical towards society (“by crystallizing itself as something unique to itself, rathe
Mar 16, 2008 Ldinunzio rated it liked it
Dense dense dense.
Ever want to spend a little too much time reading one sentence then realize it has been three months? Worth the read for what is going on, but prepare yourself. You are not prepared.
Daniel Nanavati
if you want to know where Duchamp got it from and have an almost metaphysical experience of what art is, read this. You may not end up agreeing with him but he will take you to places no other art critic or philosopher has gone..
Oct 30, 2008 Rick rated it it was amazing
Sep 17, 2015 Will rated it it was amazing
Unfinished at Adorno's death, Aesthetic Theory exists as a bundle of drafts and marginalia. Because of its incompletion and the editorial mish-mash of its existing state, this is difficult to sum up as a whole, especially given that by the two hundred-page marker we've made it to half-baked rants. Still, if there's an underlying thesis here, it's contained in the maxim: "An artwork is always itself and simultaneously the other of itself." It's a sort of paraphrase of Benjamin's paradox of art (t ...more
Nov 28, 2008 Laura rated it it was amazing
yay philosophical curmudgeonism!
May 29, 2015 Adam rated it it was amazing
Life happens, unfortunately. It would be swell to exist in a realm where death and history did not interfere with works-in-progress. I jest, I jest. The fact that Adorno had to leave this text "unfinished" and fragmentary is remarkably congruous with the theory itself; a macabre coincidence, ruse of history or what you will. There is nothing extraneous here, not one wasted word. One can read and reread and still not exhaust the page. Banished to a deserted island, this would be the book I'd want ...more
Taneli Viitahuhta
Moni ei tiedä että kääntäjä on jättänyt merkittävät osaa kirjaa kääntämättä. Asia kyllä mainitaan esipuheessa, mutta kääntämättä on jäänyt otsikon Paralipomena alle kootut fragmentit, joille ei ollut vielä löytynyt paikkaa kokonaisuudessa, kun Adorno kuoli kesken työn 1969. Myöskään itsenäinen essee taiteen alkuperästä ei sisälly suomennokseen.
Feb 25, 2008 Josh rated it really liked it
A real slog. Posthumously published. One suspects that Adorno would have culled at least one-fifth of the text had he lived to revise it. Anyway, it's fully worth the effort because of his radical reorientation of aesthetics and his theory of mediation, which rescues art from the often cold or mean-spirited leveling effect of much Marxist criticism or cultural theory, particularly that brand of crit that flourished in the 90s and was so distrustful of the word "art" much less the concept that al ...more
Feb 04, 2016 Concetta rated it liked it
It is a philosophical book and that brings with it a difficulty. I read it it in German and that increased the difficulty, since German sentences are neverending and can be a whole paragraph long.
Who is interested in knowing what beauty is and what the nature of beauty and Art is then this is the right book.
Dec 07, 2007 Nothing rated it really liked it
pretty great, stimulating theory of literature, until he starts looking at specific poems and poets, and you realise that Adorno is not actually a very good literary critic. apparently once he comes down out of critiques of heidegger and hegelian dialectic to actual flat-surfaced, ambiguous signifiers, there occurs that most common syndrome: the altitudinal brain seizure.

also, proceeds to deconstruct a lot of very reductive labels, and then just calls Celan "hermetic". and Celan was not happy.
Apr 10, 2011 Michael rated it really liked it
This is on my reread list. It was to have formed the foundation of the Dissertation, if I had actually written it. Adorno poses the problem of art and art theory in the twentieth century as the continuous re-orientation of art and theory in continous tension over innovation, representation and language. A must read (or in my case) reread.
Feb 18, 2015 David rated it it was amazing
Adorno's style is headspinning. The insight is
scatter-shot at first but sinks in later. In the
current theoretical climate, though, there is some
question whether his focus on self-contained aesthetic
objects, or the categorical autonomy of art as art,will
Charles Rost
Dec 17, 2013 Charles Rost rated it it was amazing
This is probably Adorno's most important work. I realize this is a decent translation into English. I liked the earlier one even better. I'm not sure it needed to be retranslated.
Apr 17, 2012 Phillip rated it really liked it
I would give it five stars if I really felt I understood it deeply, nevertheless it is well marked and frayed.
Jul 17, 2008 James rated it it was amazing
Beauty is a funnel-cloud, transporting itself in the shapes it assumes by its turbulent motion.
Patrick Pritchett
Dec 17, 2007 Patrick Pritchett rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Matthew, James
"Late works are the catastrophes in the history of art, embodying radical discontinuity."
Feb 03, 2010 Bernie rated it it was amazing
Very difficult book on philosophy and art. Hope to finish sometime in the next 10 years!
Jan 02, 2010 Zach rated it it was amazing
Read this with Curtis White in a class of four. Best class I'll ever take.
Sep 05, 2010 David rated it really liked it
Dense at times. Hurried at others. Be back to give my thoughts.
Oct 17, 2013 Blair rated it really liked it
Another rewarding read from one of the best art theorists around.
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Apr 11, 2013 нєνєℓ ¢ανα rated it it was amazing
Excellent work, superb analysis and great outcome!
Oct 23, 2009 Erik marked it as to-read

Yea. right... currently reading.
really condense. further reading needed
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Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno was one of the most important philosophers and social critics in Germany after World War II. Although less well known among anglophone philosophers than his contemporary Hans-Georg Gadamer, Adorno had even greater influence on scholars and intellectuals in postwar Germany. In the 1960s he was the most prominent challenger to both Sir Karl Popper's philosophy of science a ...more
More about Theodor W. Adorno...

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Theory and History of Literature (1 - 10 of 85 books)
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  • Toward an Aesthetic of Reception
  • Aesthetic Experience and Literary Hermeneutics
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  • Theory and History of Folklore (Theory and History of Literature, Volume 5)
  • The Yale Critics: Deconstruction in America
  • Blindness and Insight: Essays in the Rhetoric of Contemporary Criticism
  • Problems of Dostoevsky's Poetics
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“The darkening of the world makes the irrationality of art rational: radically darkened art.” 16 likes
“Art is the social antithesis of society, not directly deducible from it.” 12 likes
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