In 2020, the editorial project Hannah Arendt – Complete Works. Critical Edition was accepted for long-term funding by the German Research Foundation (DFG). For the first time, it makes all of Arendt’s published and unpublished work available in a reliable scholarly form. This requires the edition of about 12,000 pages of books, essays, manuscripts, and typescripts. In addition to materials from well-known sources of Arendt’s papers (The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.; the German Literature Archive in Marbach; and Bard College), several thousands of pages of previously unknown documents (typescripts, corrected proofs, notes, etc.) have been identified in international archives and integrated into the text corpus.
The Critical Edition will be the first publication to present the entirety of Hannah Arendt’s writings, excluding correspondence, with commentary and in the multiplicity of languages in which they were composed. The edition presents all of the works published during Arendt’s lifetime (monographs, essay collections, articles, interviews, etc.) as well as thousands of pages of unpublished documents from her estate (typescripts, notes, early versions, and reworkings) in their original languages (German, English, French, and Yiddish).
Arendt wrote nearly all of her books and many of her essays in distinct English and German versions. After writing an initial version in one of her two main languages, she often used the occasion of the production of a new version in her other main language to revise and rewrite; and these rewritings, in turn, sometimes informed subsequent revisions of the initial book or essay. Yet the very availability of texts from Arendt’s own hand in both languages has, paradoxically, discouraged systematic attention to the relationship between them, and to Arendt’s practice of writing between and across languages and audiences. The Critical Edition makes this fundamentally plural dimension of Arendt’s work vividly apparent, and makes it possible for readers to trace the affinities and differences among the different versions of Arendt’s writings without hunting down old magazines and out-of-print books.
The Complete Works are designed as a hybrid edition (print and digital): the print version is being published by Wallstein Verlag in Göttingen, and the open-access digital version is being published by the Freie Universität Berlin. The print edition and the web portal, each with its own strengths, enhance the potential of both media when taken together.