Ernst Bloch (1885–1977) is now recognized as a philosopher and cultural critic of the greatest importance, his subtle and profound developments of utopian Marxism as influential for the student New Left of the 1960s and 1970s as they were for the leftist movements of the twenties. Today, in the United States and Britain, his enormous body of work is attracting new generations of readers: more translations are appearing, and his utopian thought is finding a new resonance in many different contexts.
Several of the authors here address the centrality of a radically unconventional concept of utopia to Bloch’s thought; others write on the question of memory and pedagogical theory. There is a Blochian reading of crime fiction, illuminating overviews of Bloch’s work and an exploration of the stylistics of hope in Bloch’s Spuren, as well as a translation of excerpts from that extraordinary book.
The essays gathered here are intended, above all, to recommend Bloch’s work as a challenge to older models of historical materialism and utopian emancipation, and to give specific examples of how that work can contribute to current debates about utopia, nationalism and collective memory, the liberatory content of popular cultural forms, and the complex relationship between ideology and everyday life. Together they provide a timely introduction to one of the most untimely and inspiring thinkers of the twentieth century.