By Siegfried Kracauer
Siegfried Kracauer used to be one of many 20th century's so much significant cultural critics, a bold and prolific student, and an incisive theorist of movie. during this quantity his most interesting writings on smooth society make their long-awaited visual appeal in English.
This booklet is a party of the masses--their tastes, amusements, and daily lives. taking over issues of modernity, comparable to isolation and alienation, city tradition, and the relation among the gang and the person, Kracauer explores a kaleidoscope of themes: procuring arcades, the cinema, bestsellers and their readers, images, dance, lodge lobbies, Kafka, the Bible, and tedium. For Kracauer, the main revelatory elements of contemporary lifestyles within the West lie at the floor, within the ephemeral and the marginal. Of distinct fascination to him is the USA, the place he ultimately settled after fleeing Germany and whose tradition he sees as outlined virtually completely by means of "the ostentatious show of surface."
With those essays, written within the Twenties and early Thirties and edited via the writer in 1963, Kracauer was once the 1st to illustrate that learning the standard global of the hundreds can carry nice rewards. The Mass Ornament this present day is still a clean 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 rules of the Frankfurt institution, the family tree of movie thought and cultural reports, 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 inspired him--including his friendships with Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, and different Weimar intellectuals--and presents the context beneficial for figuring out his principles. beforehand, Kracauer has been identified basically for his writings at the cinema. This quantity brings us the complete scope of his presents as essentially the most wide-ranging and penetrating interpreters of contemporary existence.