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Stranger from Abroad: Hannah Arendt, Martin Heidegger, Friendship and Forgivenessby Daniel Maier-Katkin
"Since 1982, when published Elizabeth Young-Bruehl published Hannah Arendt: For Love of the World, it has been widely known that Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger had an affair. He was Germany's leading philosopher of existentialism; she was a German Jew and one of his most promising students at the University of Marburg during the 1920s. But the winds of history blew their lives in different directions. When Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, Arendt fled to France, then the United States. Heidegger joined the Nazi Party and became the rector of Freiburg University, where he dismissed Jewish faculty. Though he resigned after one year, he remained a member of the Nazi Party and supporter of National Socialism." Michelle Sieff, The Wilson Quarterly (Read the entire Wilson Quarterly review)
"Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) and Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) were considered two of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century. Heidegger, author of Being and Time (1928), was the dominant philosopher of the era until his identification with Nazism and support of Hitler during the 1930s. While he retained his position at the University of Frieburg until his death, his reputation never fully recovered from his support of fascism and the Third Reich — in spite of his subsequent explanations. Arendt was a German political theorist who was interested in all aspects of power, and, in particular, in totalitarianism and authoritarianism. As a Jew — though not religious — Arendt fled Europe in 1941 and arrived in the United States; she became an American citizen in 1950. Arendt taught at the University of California, Berkeley, Princeton University, and the New School of Social Research in New York. Among her numerous works were The Origins of Totalitarianism (1955) and Eichman in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (1963). Arendt was Heidegger's student and lover when she attended the University of Marburg during the 1920s; while Arendt married twice, she maintained contact with Heidegger and later advanced a sympathetic explanation for his support of the Nazis. Heidegger was married and conducted at least one other affair in addition to that with Arendt; Heidegger's principal love in his life was himself — everyone else, including Arendt, played supporting roles." William T. Walker, Cerise Press (Read the entire Cerise Press review)
Synopses & Reviews
Shaking up the content and method by which generations of students had studied Western philosophy, Martin Heidegger sought to ennoble man’s existence in relation to death. Yet in a time of crisis, he sought personal advancement, becoming the most prominent German intellectual to join the Nazis.
Hannah Arendt, his brilliant, beautiful student and young lover, sought to enable a decent society of human beings in relation to one other. She was courageous in the time of crisis. Years later, she was even able to meet Heidegger once again on common ground and to find in his past behavior an insight into Nazism that would influence her reflections on “the banality of evil”—a concept that remains bitterly controversial and profoundly influential to this day.
But how could Arendt have renewed her friendship with Heidegger? And how has this relationship affected her reputation as a cultural critic? In Stranger from Abroad, Daniel Maier-Katkin offers a compassionate portrait that provides much-needed insight into this relationship.
Maier-Katkin creates a detailed and riveting portrait of Arendt’s rich intellectual and emotional life, shedding light on the unique bond she shared with her second husband, Heinrich Blücher, and on her friendships with Mary McCarthy, W. H. Auden, Karl Jaspers, and Randall Jarrell—all fascinating figures in their own right. An elegant, accessible introduction to Arendt’s life and work, Stranger from Abroad makes a powerful and hopeful case for the lasting relevance of Arendt’s thought.
"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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
The relationship between Jewish historian Hannah Arendt and German philosopher, Martin Heidegger, a member of the Nazi party, has been analyzed, criticized and rationalized for nearly half a century. Maier-Katkin (criminology, Florida State University) tackles the difficult question of why, after the war, Arendt was willing to renew her friendship with Heidegger, despite his Nazi past. The book veers between a study of the philosophy of both subjects and a gossipy account of their several affairs and personal entanglements. It closes with no satisfactory conclusion, vacillating between Arendt's personal feelings and her intellectual belief in the possibility of redemption through forgiveness. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Two titans of twentieth-century thought: their lives, loves, ideas, and politics.
About the Author
Daniel Maier-Katkin is a professor of criminology and criminal justice and a Fellow of the Center for the Advancement of Human Rights at Florida State University. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida.
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