Review Of "Critical Realism: History, Photography, And The Work Of Siegfried Kracauer" By D. Barnouw

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A new contribution to the Siegfried Kracauer renaissance, this metacritical study focuses on that critic's final book, History: The Last Things Before the Last (CH, Oct'69), with its thesis that the fields of photography and historiography share an "anteroom status" and function to "reclaim both the entangled (natural) randomness and (cultural) constructedness of daily life." Densely written, the book circles round its subject(s), with myriad subtle insights and points of comparison. Wide-ranging subtopics include Kracauer's relationship to Bloch and the Frankfurt School; the influence of Proust; the writer-in-exile Alfred Schutz and the historian Eric Voegelin; photography of the Farm Security Administration; and more. Constantly anticipating arguments to come and referring to arguments past, the author's style recalls that of Kracauer himself, who, "diverted by the particularities of the world," also eschewed the linear. Intended for a graduate and research audience already well versed in modernist theory and familiar with the history of photography, the book includes key photographs, extensive endnotes (which the reader is exhorted to consult), but no bibliography.


This work is freely available courtesy of Choice Reviews. The review has been reproduced in full in the abstract field.

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