First Letters After Exile by Thomas Mann, Hannah Arendt, Ernst Bloch, and Others

First Letters After Exile by Thomas Mann, Hannah Arendt, Ernst Bloch, and Others

Edited by David Kettler & Detlef Garz

The book contains a number of studies focused on the post-war correspondence between noted exiles from Hitler’s Germany and colleagues and friends who remained in Germany. These materials provide unique insights into the reshaping of relations among the correspondents, which figure decisively in decisions of exiles on questions of return.

Hardback, 248 Pages


March 2021

£80.00, $125.00

  • About This Book
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About This Book

In the twelve studies collected in this book, the collaborators take their points of departure from the thesis that the initial exchanges of post-war letters between exiles from Nazi Germany and former colleagues and friends who remained in Germany provide unique insights into the aspirations, hopes, and fears of both sets of writers, as well as the costs of both types of experiences, varied as they are. The best-known of such exchanges, subjected to two quite distinct studies in the book, is the public correspondence between Thomas Mann and Walter von Molo, in the course of which Mann sets forth his bitter reasons for failing to return to Germany at the end of the war. Another familiar correspondence examined anew in the book is of a radically different kind, consisting mainly of letters by Hannah Arendt to Martin Heidegger, where the confluence of personal, emotional currents with questions of academic weight define a distinctive, troubling connection, indicative of quite distinct costs of exile. Included in the collection are also fresh studies of figures who may be less well-known but whose distinctive responses to the challenges posed by first letters provide matter for fresh insights into exile and its liquidation. The first essay in the book and the last focus on questions of method and interpretation in studies of this valuable kind of evidence. Apart from the rewarding historiographical findings of these inquiries, they also offer a demanding contrast in methods and theoretical claims.


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Author Information

David Kettler is a student of social and political theory with a special interest in the intellectual generation at work in Germany between the wars and in exile. He is Professor Emeritus of both Trent University (Canada) and Bard College (USA).

Detlef Garz is interested in social and educational theory and qualitative research with a focus on biographical development in Nazi Germany and beyond.


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Table of Contents

Preface; Chapter 1. The “First Letters” Exile Project: Introduction, David Kettler; Chapter 2. “That I Will Return, My Friend, You Do Not Believe Yourself ”: Karl Wolfskehl – Exul Poeta, Detlef Garz; Chapter 3. “I Do Not Lift a Stone”: Thomas Mann’s “First Letter” to Walter von Molo, Leonore Krenzlin; Chapter 4. Faust Narrative and Impossibility Thesis: Thomas Mann’s Answer to Walter von Molo, Reinhard Mehring; Chapter 5. “That I Am Not Allowed for a Moment to Forget the Ocean of Blood”: Hans-Georg Gadamer and Leo Strauss in Their First Letters after 1946, Thomas Meyer; Chapter 6. Return into Exile: First Letters to and from Ernst Bloch, Moritz Mutter and Falko Schmieder; Chapter 7. A Postwar Encounter without Pathos: Otto Kirchheimer’s Critical Response to the New Germany, Peter Breiner; Chapter 8. An Exile’s Letter to Old Comrades in Cologne: Wilhelm Sollmann’s Critique of German Social Democracy and Conception of a New Party in Postwar Germany, Marjorie Lamberti; Chapter 9. First Letters: Arendt to Heidegger, Micha Brumlik; Chapter 10. Denazification and Postwar German Philosophy: The Marcuse/Heidegger Correspondence, Thomas Wheatland; Chapter 11. “It Would Be Perhaps a New Exile and Perhaps the Most Painful”: The Theme of Return in Oskar Maria Graf’s Letters to Hugo Hartung, Helga Schreckenberger; Chapter 12. Social Constellation of the Exile at the End of the Second World War and the Pragmatics of the “First Letters”: An Objective Hermeneutic Structural and Sequence Analysis, Ulrich Oevermann; Notes on Contributors; Index.


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