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- Publisher: Random House Inc
- Format: Paperback | 288 pages
- Language: English / German
- Dimensions: 130mm x 201mm x 18mm | 159g
- Publication date: 1 December 1988
- Publication City/Country: New York
- ISBN 10: 0805202412
- ISBN 13: 9780805202410
- Sales rank: 11,806
Studies on contemporary art and culture by one of the most original, critical and analytical minds of this century.
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Walter Benjamin is recognized as one of the most acute analysts of literary and sociological phenomena of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He died in 1940.
Walter Benjamin is the least known of the German school of neo-Marxist critics, but he is these days more often than not considered by the knowledgeable reader as being superior to Adorno, Marcuse, and Lukacs. The anti-fascist Benjamin committed suicide in 1940 at the age of forty-eight when he was stopped at the Franco-Spanish border en route to America. Thus his whole oeuvre is the work of a relatively young man. Produced in the Twenties and Thirties, Benjamin's critical essays are remarkable less as an outgrowth, however striking, of Marxist thought (Benjamin is actually more Hegelian than Marxian), than as a forerunner of the new structuralist way of looking at or "drilling" through literary texts. As Hannah Arendt states in her brilliant introduction, Benjamin chose "not to investigate the utilitarian or communicative functions of linguistic creations, but to understand then in their crystallized and thus ultimately fragmentary form as intentionless and noncommunicative utterances of a 'world essence'." Benjamin, she says, had "the gift of thinking poetically." Benjamin, alas, is also German, and while a good deal of his style delightfully employs the short reflective annotation or aphorism, he can, when his dialectical heritage goes to his head, sound like Heidegger or Holderlin. Nevertheless, though heavy weather here and there, what Benjamin has to say about Kafka, Leskov, Baudelaire, Proust, and others, is extraordinarily adventurous, original, and alive. This first English sampling of his work is a publishing event of major importance. (Kirkus Reviews)
Studies on contemporary art and culture by one of the most original, critical and analytical minds of this century. Illuminations includes Benjamin's views on Kafka, with whom he felt the closest personal affinity, his studies on Baudelaire and Proust (both of whom he translated), his essays on Leskov and on Brecht's Epic Theater. Also included are his penetrating study on "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," an illuminating discussion of translation as a literary mode, and his thesis on the philosophy of history. Hannah Arendt selected the essays for this volume and prefaces them with a substantial, admirably informed introduction that presents Benjamin's personality and intellectual development, as well as his work and his life in dark times.Reflections the companion volume to this book, is also available in Schocken paperback.
Table of contents
Preface by Leon Wiesletier INTRODUCTION Walter Benjamin: 1892–1940, by Hannah Arendt UNPACKING MY LIBRARY A Talk about Book Collecting THE TASK OF THE TRANSLATOR An Introduction to the Translation of Baudelaire’s Tableaux parisiens THE STORYTELLER Reflections on the Works of Nikolai Leskov FRANZ KAFKA On the Tenth Anniversary of His Death SOME REFLECTIONS ON KAFKA WHAT IS EPIC THEATER? ON SOME MOTIFS IN BAUDELAIRE THE IMAGE OF PROUST THE WORK OF ART IN THE AGE OF MECHANICAL REPRODUCTION THESES ON THE PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY Editor’s Note Index of Names