Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Martin Elsky

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Comparative Literature


Intellectual Biography, Language of the Exile, Frankfurt Institute, Minima Moralia, Dialectic of Enlightenment, Odyssey, Philosophical Fragments


Adorno’s experience as an exile influenced his two works Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments (1944) and Minima Moralia: Reflections from a Damaged Life (1951). These works embody the adversity Adorno wrestled with in his personal life and voice a quasi-indignant resignation to the notion of displacement as a natural yet mutilated human condition. I will analyze Dialectic of Enlightenment through the subjective, experiential lens of Minima Moralia thereby revealing the personal allusions to Adorno himself in his analysis of Odysseus as the prototypical bourgeois.

This thesis explores a biographical approach of the man who was known for his viscero-critical voice. I propose that the cultural diversity apparent in his bourgeois upbringing in post-Weimarian Germany, ironically, equipped him to confront his exile in America as a part of the Frankfurt Institute of Social Research. This study zeroes in on Adorno’s background, how it affected his language, and how this enabled him to cunningly navigate his exile.