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Lateness and Modern European Literature$
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Ben Hutchinson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198767695

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198767695.001.0001

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Lateness as ‘a European Language’: Theodor W. Adorno and Late Style

Lateness as ‘a European Language’: Theodor W. Adorno and Late Style

Chapter:
(p.257) 14 Lateness as ‘a European Language’: Theodor W. Adorno and Late Style
Source:
Lateness and Modern European Literature
Author(s):

Ben Hutchinson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198767695.003.0015

Chapter 14 concentrates on arguably the most influential twentieth-century theorist of lateness: Theodor Adorno. Adorno’s views on lateness are characteristically subtle and sophisticated, and relate in complex ways to his views on modernity more broadly. If the relationship between the aesthetic and late modernity forms the defining focus of his thought, the relationship between the late aesthetic and modernity offers a microcosm of this thought. Beginning from his seminal four-page essay ‘On Beethoven’s Late Style’, the chapter proceeds to view lateness as a red thread running throughout Adorno’s thought, from the early work on late style in the 1930s to the reflections on the vexed status of culture after the Holocaust in the 1950s and 1960s. In particular, the chapter also considers Adorno’s theorization of Kafka, Beckett, and Thomas Mann as exemplary writers of ‘late’ modernity, arguing that lateness ultimately emerges from this theorization as a ‘truly European language’.

Keywords:   late style, modernism, Theodor Adorno, Beethoven, Franz Kafka, Samuel Beckett

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