Essays in Understanding, 1930-1954
Formation, Exile, and Totalitarianism
By Hannah Arendt
(Schocken, Paperback, 9780805211863, 496pp.)
Publication Date: June 7, 2005
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Few thinkers have addressed the political horrors and ethical complexities of the twentieth century with the insight and passionate intellectual integrity of Hannah Arendt. She was irresistible drawn to the activity of understanding, in an effort to endow historic, political, and cultural events with meaning. Essays in Understanding assembles many of Arendt’s writings from the 1930s, 1940s, and into the 1950s. Included here are illuminating discussions of St. Augustine, existentialism, Kafka, and Kierkegaard: relatively early examinations of Nazism, responsibility and guilt, and the place of religion in the modern world: and her later investigations into the nature of totalitarianism that Arendt set down after The Origins of Totalitarianism was published in 1951. The body of work gathered in this volume gives us a remarkable portrait of Arendt’s developments as a thinker—and confirms why her ideas and judgments remain as provocative and seminal today as they were when she first set them down.
Hannah Arendt was born in Hanover, Germany, 1906, fled to Paris in 1933, and came to the United States after the outbreak of World War II. She was editorial director of Schocken Books from 1946 to 1948. She taught at Berkeley, Princeton, the University of Chicago, and The New School for Social Research. Arendt died in 1975.