LETTERS 1925–1975: Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger

Hannah Arendt, Author, Martin Heidegger, Author, Ursula Ludz, Editor , trans. from the German by Andrew Shields. Harcourt $40 (360p) ISBN 978-0-15-100525-3

For Martin Heidegger, truth stood in relation to thinking as a contemplative activity of un-covering the character of Being lost to misrepresentations amassed over time. As these letters reveal, personal relationships also evolve in this way, as Heidegger confesses to Arendt about their mutual silence, "what is unwritten is mysterious and holds a great deal of ripening power." It is fitting then that following previously incomplete accounts of the intellectual and personal relationship of Arendt and Heidegger, a full edition of their extant personal letters is finally revealed. This collection from German scholar Ludz covers the three major stages of their lives: their initial intimacy while Heidegger was a professor and Arendt a budding young student, the years following their dramatic separation as Heidegger rose through the university ranks during the Nazi regime, while Arendt was forced to flee to America, and their reconciliatory and collegial discourse as they both hit the height of popularity in the postwar decades. The translation of the German comes across in a prose that will appear seamless to the reader familiar with Heidegger's thought and neologistic style. Of the surviving letters, only a quarter are Arendt's, but Heidegger's responsive style follows the continuity of the intellectual pathmarks these two set forth in their public works. From Heidegger's love of nature to his self-doubt of his own work, his personal struggles (which will not be extensive enough for many readers) emerge alongside an account of Arendt's own scholarly travails. While dwelling in the space of intimacy revealed by the poetical words of two lovers, this collection also uncovers profound dimensions of thinking, in all of its uncertainty and blindness. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 12/08/2003
Release date: 02/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
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