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By Siegfried Kracauer

Siegfried Kracauer used to be one of many 20th century's such a lot terrific cultural critics, a bold and prolific pupil, and an incisive theorist of movie. during this quantity his best writings on smooth society make their long-awaited visual appeal in English.

This publication is a party of the masses--their tastes, amusements, and daily lives. taking over issues of modernity, equivalent to isolation and alienation, city tradition, and the relation among the gang and the person, Kracauer explores a kaleidoscope of issues: buying arcades, the cinema, bestsellers and their readers, images, dance, inn lobbies, Kafka, the Bible, and tedium. For Kracauer, the main revelatory features of recent existence within the West lie at the floor, within the ephemeral and the marginal. Of distinct fascination to him is the U.S., the place he finally settled after fleeing Germany and whose tradition he sees as outlined virtually solely via "the ostentatious exhibit of surface."

With those essays, written within the Nineteen Twenties and early Nineteen Thirties and edited via the writer in 1963, Kracauer used to be the 1st to illustrate that learning the typical international of the loads can convey nice rewards. The Mass Ornament at the present time continues to be a clean tribute to pop culture, and its impressively interdisciplinary essays proceed to shed gentle not just on Kracauer's later paintings but additionally at the rules of the Frankfurt college, the family tree of movie idea and cultural stories, Weimar cultural politics, and, now not least, the exigencies of highbrow exile.

In his creation, Thomas Levin situates Kracauer in a turbulent age, illuminates the forces that prompted him--including his friendships with Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, and different Weimar intellectuals--and presents the context worthwhile for realizing his rules. earlier, Kracauer has been recognized essentially for his writings at the cinema. This quantity brings us the complete scope of his presents as some of the most wide-ranging and penetrating interpreters of contemporary life.

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