Walter Benjamin was one of the most original cultural critics of the twentieth century. Illuminations includes his views on Kafka, with whom he felt a close personal affinity; his studies on Baudelaire and Proust; and his essays on Leskov and on Brecht's Epic Theater. Also included are his penetrating study "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," an enlightening discussion of translation as a literary mode, and Benjamin's theses on the philosophy of history. Hannah Arendt selected the essays for this volume and introduces them with a classic essay about Benjamin's life in dark times. Also included is a new preface by Leon Wieseltier that explores Benjamin's continued relevance for our times.
Deals with surrealism, Brecht, Berlin, Paris, Moscow, Marseilles, Naples, violence, fate, language, and character
Collection of Benjamin's writings on the poetic and dramatic work of his tutor and friend.
An absorbing selection of Walter Benjamin’s personal manuscripts, images, and documents The work of the great literary and cultural critic Walter Benjamin is an audacious plotting of history, art, and thought; a reservoir of texts, commentaries, scraps, and fragments of everyday life, art, and dreams. Throughout his life, Benjamin gathered together all kinds of artifacts, assortments of images, texts, and signs, themselves representing experiences, ideas, and hopes, each of which was enthusiastically logged, systematized, and analyzed by their author. In this way, Benjamin laid the groundwork for the salvaging of his own legacy. Intricate and intimate, Walter Benjamin’s Archive leads readers to the heart of his intellectual world, yielding a rich and detailed portrait of its author. From the Trade Paperback edition.
A beautiful collection of the legendary thinker’s short stories The Storyteller gathers for the first time the fiction of the legendary critic and philosopher Walter Benjamin, best known for his groundbreaking studies of culture and literature, including Illuminations, One-Way Street and The Arcades Project. His stories revel in the erotic tensions of city life, cross the threshold between rational and hallucinatory realms, celebrate the importance of games, and delve into the peculiar relationship between gambling and fortune-telling, and explore the themes that defined Benjamin. The novellas, fables, histories, aphorisms, parables and riddles in this collection are brought to life by the playful imagery of the modernist artist and Bauhaus figure Paul Klee. From the Trade Paperback edition.
This book offers a cultural history of modern China by looking at the tension between memory and history. Mainstream books on China tend to focus on the hard aspects of economics, government, politics, or international relations. This book takes a humanistic look at modern changes and examines how Chinese intellectuals and artists experienced trauma, social upheavals, and transformations. Drawing on a wide array of sources in political and aesthetic writings, literature, film, and public discourse, the author has portrayed the unique ways the Chinese imagine and portray their own historical destiny in the midst of trauma, catastrophe, and runaway globalization.
This illuminating study of Benjamin’s final essay helps unlock the mystery of this great philosopher Revolutionary critic of the philosophy of progress, nostalgic of the past yet dreaming of the future, romantic partisan of materialism—Walter Benjamin is in every sense of the word an “unclassifiable” philosopher. His essay “On the Concept of History” was written in a state of urgency, as he attempted to escape the Gestapo in 1940, before finally committing suicide. In this scrupulous, clear and fascinating examination of this essay, Michael Löwy argues that it remains one of the most important philosophical and political writings of the twentieth century. Looking in detail at Benjamin’s celebrated but often mysterious text, and restoring the philosophical, theological and political context, Löwy highlights the complex relationship between redemption and revolution in Benjamin’s philosophy of history.
Not an autobiography in the customary sense, Benjamin's recollection of his childhood in an upper-middle-class Jewish home in Berlin's West End at the turn of the century is translated into English for the first time in book form.
No other country and no other period has produced a tradition of major aesthetic debate to compare with that which unfolded in German culture from the 1930s to the 1950s. In Aesthetics and Politics the key texts of the great Marxist controversies over literature and art during these years are assembled in a single volume. They do not form a disparate collection but a continuous, interlinked debate between thinkers who have become giants of twentieth-century intellectual history.
In a lucid, brilliant work of nonfiction -- as close to an autobiography as his readers are likely to get -- Larry McMurtry has written a family portrait that also serves as a larger portrait of Texas itself, as it was and as it has become. Using as a springboard an essay by the German literary critic Walter Benjamin that he first read in Archer City's Dairy Queen, McMurtry examines the small-town way of life that big oil and big ranching have nearly destroyed. He praises the virtues of everything from a lime Dr. Pepper to the lost art of oral storytelling, and describes the brutal effect of the sheer vastness and emptiness of the Texas landscape on Texans, the decline of the cowboy, and the reality and the myth of the frontier. McMurtry writes frankly and with deep feeling about his own experiences as a writer, a parent, and a heart patient, and he deftly lays bare the raw material that helped shape his life's work: the creation of a vast, ambitious, fictional panorama of Texas in the past and the present. Throughout, McMurtry leaves his readers with constant reminders of his all-encompassing, boundless love of literature and books.
In the past two and a half decades, Walter Benjamin's early essay 'Towards the Critique of Violence' (1921) has taken a central place in politico-philosophic debates. The complexity and perhaps even the occasional obscurity of Benjamin's text have undoubtedly contributed to the diversity, conflict, and richness of contemporary readings. Interest has heightened following the attention that philosophers such as Jacques Derrida and Giorgio Agamben have devoted to it. Agamben's own interest started early in his career with his 1970 essay, 'On the Limits of Violence', and Benjamin's essay continues to be a fundamental reference in Agamben's work. Written by internationally recognized scholars, Towards the Critique of Violence is the first book to explore politico-philosophic implications of Benjamin's 'Critique of Violence' and correlative implications of Benjamin's resonance in Agamben's writings. Topics of this collection include mythic violence, the techniques of non-violent conflict resolution, ambiguity, destiny or fate, decision and nature, and the relation between justice and thinking. The volume explores Agamben's usage of certain Benjaminian themes, such as Judaism and law, bare life, sacrifice, and Kantian experience, culminating with the English translation of Agamben's 'On the Limits of Violence'.
Walter Benjamin's posthumously published collection of writings on hashish is a detailed blueprint for a book that was never written. A series of "protocols of drug experiments," written between 1927 and 1934, together with short prose pieces, "On Hashish" provides a peculiarly intimate portrait of Benjamin and of his unique form of thought.
Translated by J. A. Underwood With an Introduction by Amit Choudhuri 'There has been no more original, no more serious, critic and reader in our time' George Steiner Walter Benjamin - philosopher, essayist, literary and cultural theorist - was one of the most original writers and thinkers of the twentieth century. This new selection brings together Benjamin's major works, including 'One-Way Street', a series of aphoristic observations prompted by urban life in 1920s Europe; 'Unpacking My Library', a delightful meditation on book-collecting; the confessional 'Hashish in Marseille'; and 'The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction', his seminal essay on how technology changes the way we appreciate art. Also including writings on subjects ranging from Proust to Kafka, violence to surrealism, this is the essential volume on one of the most prescient critical voices of the modern age. 'One of the most celebrated intellectuals of the twentieth century' Guardian
Walter Benjamin’s 1931 essay “A Short History of Photography” is a landmark in the understanding and criticism of the medium, offering surprising new takes on such photographic pioneers as David Octavius Hill and Nicéphore Niépce and their aesthetic and technical achievements. On Photography presents a new translation of that essay along with a number of other writings by Benjamin, some of them presented in English for the first time. Translator and editor Esther Leslie sets Benjamin’s work in context with prefaces to each piece and contributes a substantial introduction that considers Benjamin’s engagement with photography in all its forms, including early commercial studio photography, the uses of photography in science, and much more.
Walter Benjamin's essays on the great French lyric poet Charles Baudelaire revolutionized not just the way we think about Baudelaire, but our understanding of modernity and modernism as well. In these essays, Benjamin challenges the image of Baudelaire as late-Romantic dreamer, and evokes instead the modern poet caught in a life-or-death struggle with the forces of the urban commodity capitalism that had emerged in Paris around 1850. The Baudelaire who steps forth from these pages is the flâneur who affixes images as he strolls through mercantile Paris, the ragpicker who collects urban detritus only to turn it into poetry, the modern hero willing to be marked by modern life in its contradictions and paradoxes. He is in every instance the modern artist forced to commodify his literary production: "Baudelaire knew how it stood with the poet: as a flâneur he went to the market; to look it over, as he thought, but in reality to find a buyer." Benjamin reveals Baudelaire as a social poet of the very first rank. The introduction to this volume presents each of Benjamin's essays on Baudelaire in chronological order. The introduction, intended for an undergraduate audience, aims to articulate and analyze the major motifs and problems in these essays, and to reveal the relationship between the essays and Benjamin's other central statements on literature, its criticism, and its relation to the society that produces it.
Benjaminâe(tm)s famous âeoeWork of Artâe essay sets out his boldest thoughtsâe"on media and on culture in generalâe"in their most realized form, while retaining an edge that gets under the skin of everyone who reads it. In this essay the visual arts of the machine age morph into literature and theory and then back again to images, gestures, and thought. This essay, however, is only the beginning of a vast collection of writings that the editors have assembled to demonstrate what was revolutionary about Benjaminâe(tm)s explorations on media. Long before Marshall McLuhan, Benjamin saw that the way a bullet rips into its victim is exactly the way a movie or pop song lodges in the soul. This book contains the second, and most daring, of the four versions of the âeoeWork of Artâe essayâe"the one that addresses the utopian developments of the modern media. The collection tracks Benjaminâe(tm)s observations on the media as they are revealed in essays on the production and reception of art; on film, radio, and photography; and on the modern transformations of literature and painting. The volume contains some of Benjaminâe(tm)s best-known work alongside fascinating, little-known essaysâe"some appearing for the first time in English. In the context of his passionate engagement with questions of aesthetics, the scope of Benjaminâe(tm)s media theory can be fully appreciated.
Though published during his lifetime, Walter Benjamin's dream notes and theoretical reflections on dreams are collected here for the first time in a single volume. Dreams highlights a dimension of Benjamin's thinking that was invaluable for his writing and thought but which has thus far received little attention. The first section, "Dream Notes," is a comprehensive and chronological collection of Benjamin's transcriptions of his own dreams and includes unpublished manuscript materials. The second section, "On Perception of Dreams: Awakening and Dream," features his theoretical reflections on dreams, ranging from short aphorisms and longer analyses of dream literature and the history of dreams to the political conception of a "dreaming collective" and its awakening. Editor Burkhardt Lindner describes Benjamin's literary approach to his own dreams in the epilogue and gives a sketch of Benjamin's own definition of the dream sphere, independent of and in contrast to Surrealism and Freud's interpretation of dreams. This handsome, pocket-sized reader presents Benjamin as both a great dreamer and an important theorist of dreams. Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) is one of the 20th century's most influential theorists and critics. A member of the Frankfurt school alongside Theodor Adorno, Ernst Bloch and Max Horkheimer, he also maintained close friendships with thinkers such as Marxist theorist Georg Lukacs, playwright Bertolt Brecht and Kabbalah scholar Gershom Scholem. Among Benjamin's best-known works are the essays "The Task of the Translator" (1923), "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" (1936) and "Theses on the Philosophy of History" (1940). His major work as a literary critic included essays on Baudelaire, Goethe, Kafka, Kraus, Leskov, Proust, Walser and Scheerbart. In 1940, at the age of 48, Benjamin committed suicide in Portbou at the French-Spanish border while attempting to escape from invading Nazi forces.
Critiquing the arcades of nineteenth-century Paris--glass-roofed rows of shops that served as early malls--the author, who wrote the work in the 1920s and 1930s, covers thirty-six still-trenchant topics, including fashion, boredom, photography, advertising, and prostitution, among others.
While looking through his contact sheets in 2007 Harvey Benge noticed that one of his pictures reminded him of a Friedlander, another of an Atget, yet others of a Tillmans, a Baldessari and Adams a Picking them out he decided to make what leading UK photography critic Gerry Badger describes in his opening essay as an 'anthology' of contemporary photography featuring some of its biggest names. The result is a sharply curated and perfectly formed collection of intriguing, beguiling and seductive images, sure to delight the photography aficionado and newcomer alike. 'Of course they are all genuine original Benges. And it is important that they are all good pictures, not mere pastiches of the "originals" of which they gently but insistently remind one. This may be a game, but games can be very serious, and this is both as serious and light-hearted exploration of photographic style.' - Gerry Badger
The last decade has seen a new wave of interest in philosophical and theoretical circles in the writings of Walter Benjamin. In Body-and Image-Space Sigrid Weigel, one of Germany's leading feminist theorists and a renowned commentator on the work of Walter Benjamin, argues that the reception of his work has so far overlooked a crucial aspect of his thought - his use of images. Weigel shows that it is precisely his practice of thinking in images that holds the key to understanding the full complexity, richness and topicality of Benjamin's theory.