Archive for July 6th, 2009

Adorno’s In Search of Wagner, written in exile from Germany, is a potent study of Europe’s most controversial composer and explodes the frontiers of musical and cultural analysis. Measuring key elements of Wagner’s oeuvre with patent musical dexterity, Adorno sheds light on a nineteenth-century bourgeois figure whose operas betray the social gestures and high-culture fantasies that helped plant the seeds of the modern Culture Industry.

A foreword by Slavoj Žižek situates Adorno’s reflections within present debates over Wagner’s anti-Semitism and the moral status of his work, proving why this book remains one of the most important character studies of the twentieth century.

The first question in our Radical Thinkers giveaway competition is:

Who is quoted on the back of Verso’s new edition of In Search of Wagner as saying that ‘A volume of Adorno is equivalent to a whole shelf of books on literature’?


Entry to the competition for Radical Thinkers question 1 is now closed! The answer is:

Susan Sontag

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Verso continues the highly popular Radical Thinkers project with Set 4, bringing together the seminal texts of the world’s leading revolutionary thinkers.

These beautifully produced books, with a striking new design, present a history of progressive theory from the classic works of Adorno, Benjamin and Lukács through the famous studies of Althusser and Debord, to their modern successors.

Radical Thinkers set 4 is available to buy individually from all good bookshops, or as a full set for a discount price.

Theodor Adorno In Search of Wagner

Louis Althusser and Étienne Balibar Reading Capital

Jean Baudrillard The Transparency of Evil: Essays on Extreme Phenomena

Walter Benjamin The Origin of German Tragic Drama

Simon Critchley Ethics-Politics-Subjectivity: Derrida, Levinas, and Contemporary French Thought

Guy Debord Panegyric

Terry Eagleton Walter Benjamin: Or, Towards a Revolutionary Criticism

Fredric Jameson The Cultural Turn: Selected Writings on the Postmodern, 1983–1998

Georg Lukács Lenin: A Study on the Unity of His Thought

Chantal Mouffe The Democratic Paradox

Gillian Rose Hegel Contra Sociology

Paul Virilio War and Cinema: The Logistics of Perception

Praise for the Radical Thinkers series:

“A golden treasury of theory”

Eric Banks, Bookforum

“Verso’s beautifully designed Radical Thinkers series, which brings together seminal works by leading left-wing intellectuals, is a sophisticated blend of theory and thought. The 12 authors whose writings are included in the series have worked tirelessly to expose the mechanisms by which culture and knowledge are manufactured, managed and controlled.”

Ziauddin Sardar, New Statesman

Highlights from the set include:

  • The reissuing of both Terry Eagleton’s landmark study of Walter Benjamin, and Benjamin’s own study of German Tragedy.
  • Adorno’s study of Wagner, Europe’s most controversial composer, written during his period in exile from the Third Reich, and published with a foreword by Slavoj Žižek.
  • Simon Critchley confronts many key figures in Ethics-Politics-Subjectivity, including Derrida, Levinas and Lacan.
  • Gillian Rose’s long unavailable work Hegel Contra Sociology.
  • Louis Althusser and Etienne Balibar’s groundbreaking study of Marx, Reading Capital.
  • Guy Debord’s fascinating autobiography.


To launch this new set, Verso will be running a giveaway competition. For the next two and a half weeks, one question will be posted on this blog per morning relating to a book in the series (watch for the twitter alert!). Each day, three copies of each book will be available to win; on the last day, one full set will be up for grabs.

Entrants must email their answers to enquiries AT verso.co.uk, with their names and the addresses to which the prize should be sent. The first three correct answers will win. The competition is only open to those outside of North America.

Watch for today’s first question!

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In the first issue of Loops, Faber’s new music magazine, Simon Reynolds, the renowned blogger and author of Energy Flash, Rip it Up and Start Again, Bring the Noise and Totally Wired, looks at the attempts to imagine the music of the future in science fiction films, and finds they often can’t escape the past:

As theorised in his masterwork Postmodernism, Or, The Cultural Logic of Late CapitalismVerso 978 Postmodernism, Jameson’s ‘nostalgia mode’ is not to be confused with either the nostalgia felt by an individual for his own past or veneration and longing inspired by a remote-in-time antiquity that seems superior to the present. Rather it’s a symptom of artistic and cultural malaise, an inability to innovate forms of narrative and modes of expression capable of representing the present let alone projecting the future.

Talking of nostalgia, remember when the broadsheets reviewed serious cultural theory? See Simon Reynolds’ review of Fredric Jameson’s Postmodernism from the Observer in 1991.

Simon Reynolds is contributing an article on Grime to the forthcoming The Wire Primers: A Guide to Modern Music.Wire Primers

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