Vol. 6 | The Modern Challenge to Tradition | Editorial Introduction

Second New York Fragment

When Arendt used a typescript for a lecture, she usually added handwritten remarks between the lines or in the margins, and very often she saw the need to shorten the text so that she would not run over time, marking the abbreviations with brackets in the text and arrows in the margins. Part “IV” shows handwritten addenda but not a single such abridgment. It is obviously a text written as a book chapter that (unlike all the other Gauss typescripts) was not used for a lecture. Therefore we decided not to include it with the other texts presented in this context but rather recreate a version written while she was giving the seminars, or more precisely, after she had delivered Tradition and past and before she presented “V”.

With the handwritten “V” on page 15 of the typescript, a rather random caesura not supported by any content related break, we encounter a different text. The section begins with a handwritten addendum and ends with two long handwritten sentences; it shows a series of abridgments that cut more than one page out of the text. This clearly shows that Arendt used this part for her lectures. In other words, the 33 pages that create this fragment were written in one flow and only those pages starting with page 15 were part of the Gauss seminars. Our reconstruction of the fragment therefore displays “V” as an integrated part of “IV”. In order to show how the text might have looked before Arendt reworked it for the lecture, we removed the handwritten addition on page 15 and re-integrated the parts cut out of for the seminar.

As the page numbering suggests, Arendt reworked the fragment at least once. The first 13 pages are quite clean, with none of Arendt’s typical markings for lecture notes. [Moreover, they repeat in large measure arguments and quotations discussed in “III”.] The pages that follow, however, are different. Starting with page 14, extensive expansions are to be found, signaled by the old page numbers 13a through 13h. Towards the end, we find two more additions (18a through 18c and “ad 19”), so that an original typescript of 22 pages now runs to 33. But how to date these expansions? There is an indisputable sign on the page with the handwritten “V” (15). Written in the gesture of a text that is supposed to be part of a book, it refers to “the passage from the Statesman quoted above.” This extremely important addition, containing eight pages (13a through 13h), was composed for the book. Here, Arendt introduces the difference between labor and work that would play such a crucial role in her thinking. An orphaned page with her handwritten remark “13b, discarded 14a?” — we found it in part “III” of the Gauss material — shows that it took her at least two attempts to sew her thoughts into the discussion of the difference between private and public according to Plato that determine the surrounding pages.

Barbara Hahn