Within Four Walls: The Correspondence Between Hannah Arendt and Heinrich Blucher, 1936-1968

Hannah Arendt, Author, Heinrich Blucher, Author, Brace Publish Harcourt Brace Publishing, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $35 (700p) ISBN 978-0-15-100303-7
In the 1930s Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) was a Zionist activist and Heinrich Bl cher (1899-1970) was a Communist. Each had escaped Nazi Germany to Paris, where they met, and then moved on together to New York City, where they spent their married life until Bl cher's death. Various editions of Arendt's letters are currently available (exchanges with Heidegger, Karl Jaspers, Hermann Broch and others), but this very fine collection is special because of Arendt's relaxed and unconstrained relationship with her husband. In these letters one senses that Arendt is most fully herself, for better and for worse, than in her other, more formal or otherwise strained relationships (Heidegger was her lover in the 1920s). She and Bl cher speak their minds freely. Their letters contain a few recurring themes that amount to ongoing subplots. One is their gradual and mutual discovery of the United States and its universities, prompting a sense of cultural and intellectual superiority to Americans. Yet while many German exiles longed for return to Germany, Heinrich and Hannah did not; they chose to remain, though Hannah often traveled in Europe because of the fame her writings brought her. Another major subplot in these letters is the conflicted and difficult triangles with Heidegger (her mentor and lover-turned-Nazi) and Karl Jaspers (her dissertation adviser and friend, jealous of Heidegger's greatness and of his relationship to her). Constantine's translations are exceptional, not only accurate but also able to catch the tones and idiomatic nuances of Hannah and Heinrich's private world. Serious students of the history of ideas will be eager for this inside look at an important thinker like Arendt. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/20/2000
Release date: 11/01/2000
Genre: Nonfiction
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