Hannah Arendt (Magill's Literary Annual 1980)
The essays in Melvyn Hill’s collection, Hannah Arendt: The Recovery of the Public World, include both appreciative commemorations of Arendt’s unique place in American intellectual life and critical appropriations of her thought. The writers bring a variety of perspectives to bear on Arendt’s work: they are both academic theorists and nonprofessional political thinkers; they are philosophers, professors of political theory, and architects; they are Marxists, structuralists, and idealists. All have found in Hannah Arendt’s work some exemplary or engaging or provocative quality: Hill’s collection is a record of their engagements with this thinker.
Perhaps because this collection has been published so soon after Arendt’s death, and perhaps because so many of the writers represented in it knew her personally, the commemorative rather than the critical aspects of the collection are the most evident and striking. This commemoration takes three forms: tributes to Arendt’s temper of mind, to the main trends of her thought, and to her distinct method.
Many of the writers in Hill’s collection find in Arendt’s reflections on her experience as a Jew in Nazi Germany, in Occupied France, and in exile in the United States, an exemplary response to the central problems of the twentieth century: the problems of totalitarianism and of thinking politically in an age when traditional patterns of political thought have collapsed....
(The entire section is 2046 words.)
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