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By Siegfried Kracauer

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

This booklet is a party of the masses--their tastes, amusements, and daily lives. taking on topics of modernity, corresponding to isolation and alienation, city tradition, and the relation among the crowd and the person, Kracauer explores a kaleidoscope of issues: procuring arcades, the cinema, bestsellers and their readers, images, dance, inn lobbies, Kafka, the Bible, and tedium. For Kracauer, the main revelatory elements of recent lifestyles within the West lie at the floor, within the ephemeral and the marginal. Of distinctive fascination to him is the us, the place he finally settled after fleeing Germany and whose tradition he sees as outlined virtually solely by way of "the ostentatious reveal of surface."

With those essays, written within the Twenties and early Thirties and edited by way of the writer in 1963, Kracauer used to be the 1st to illustrate that learning the typical international of the hundreds can deliver nice rewards. The Mass Ornament at the present time is still a fresh tribute to pop culture, and its impressively interdisciplinary essays proceed to shed mild not just on Kracauer's later paintings but in addition at the principles of the Frankfurt university, the family tree of movie concept and cultural experiences, Weimar cultural politics, and, no longer least, the exigencies of highbrow exile.

In his advent, Thomas Levin situates Kracauer in a turbulent age, illuminates the forces that motivated him--including his friendships with Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, and different Weimar intellectuals--and offers the context worthwhile for figuring out his principles. before, Kracauer has been recognized essentially for his writings at the cinema. This quantity brings us the entire scope of his presents as probably the most wide-ranging and penetrating interpreters of contemporary life.

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