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The Fleeting Promise of ArtAdorno's Aesthetic Theory Revisited$
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Peter Uwe Hohendahl

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780801452369

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801452369.001.0001

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Reality, Realism, and Representation

Reality, Realism, and Representation

(p.103) 4 Reality, Realism, and Representation
The Fleeting Promise of Art

Peter Uwe Hohendahl

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines Theodor Adorno's engagement with literature by focusing on the theoretical problem of realism and representation in Aesthetic Theory. It first considers the role of realism in Adorno's aesthetic theory before discussing more complex aspects of representation, including the concept of the monad as Adorno's model for the autonomous structure of the artwork. It then analyzes Adorno's resistance to the notion of realism and suggests that it is grounded in his concept of the artwork, in particular its emphatic distance from empirical reality—an aspect that is forcefully articulated in his understanding of poetry. It also explores the broader implications of the concept of representation, which at first sight is only a minor element in Adorno's theory in connection with the assessment of the novel.

Keywords:   novel, Theodor Adorno, realism, representation, Aesthetic Theory, monad, artwork, poetry

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