Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Volume 2: Part 2: 1931-1934

Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Volume 2: Part 2: 1931-1934

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By (author) Walter Benjamin, Series edited by Michael W. Jennings, Series edited by Gary Smith, Series edited by Howard Eiland

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  • Publisher: The Belknap Press
  • Format: Paperback | 480 pages
  • Dimensions: 155mm x 234mm x 25mm | 635g
  • Publication date: 15 June 2005
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge, Mass.
  • ISBN 10: 0674017463
  • ISBN 13: 9780674017467
  • Sales rank: 96,682

Product description

In the frenzied final years of the Weimar Republic, amid economic collapse and mounting political catastrophe, Walter Benjamin emerged as the most original practicing literary critic and public intellectual in the German-speaking world. Volume 2 of the Selected Writings is now available in paperback in two parts. In Part 1, Benjamin is represented by two of his greatest literary essays, "Surrealism" and "On the Image of Proust," as well as by a long article on Goethe and a generous selection of his wide-ranging commentary for Weimar Germany's newspapers. Part 2 contains, in addition to the important longer essays, "Franz Kafka," "Karl Kraus," and "The Author as Producer," the extended autobiographical meditation "A Berlin Chronicle," and extended discussions of the history of photography and the social situation of the French writer, previously untranslated shorter pieces on such subjects as language and memory, theological criticism and literary history, astrology and the newspaper, and on such influential figures as Paul Valery, Stefan George, Hitler, and Mickey Mouse.

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Author information

Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) was the author of many works of literary and cultural analysis. Michael W. Jennings is Professor of German, Princeton University. Gary Smith is an editor at work on the Einstein Papers project. Howard Eiland teaches literature at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Review quote

[Praise for the one-volume hardcover edition] For those who know only the small selection of essays and longer texts previously translated into English, this book may be a revelation. Selected Writings: Volume 2 spanning the period from his abandonment of academia and his emergence as an important literary journalist in 1927 to his near silencing after the Nazis seized power and his exile in 1934, shows the writer at his sparkling best. -- Paul Mattick New York Times Book Review [Praise for the one-volume hardcover edition] The period from 1927 to 1934 spanned in this volume was for Walter Benjamin both grievous and fertile...The range of topics and perspectives is immense. It extends from considerations on kitsch and pornography to repeated encounters, personal or indirect, with Gide, Kierkegaard and surrealism. The cultural history of toys fascinates Benjamin as he records his own Berlin childhood. Insights into 'Left-Wing Melancholy' alternate with thoughts on Mickey Mouse, on Chaplin, and on graphology. -- George Steiner The Observer This awesome 800-page collection demonstrates that Benjamin was able to pack more thought into the years 1931-34 than most people manage in a lifetime...Altogether indispensable. -- Steven Poole The Guardian 20050702 After the lede comes the body of the essay, where the meat is served up. When a critic as astute as German man of letters Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) writes about a subject as rich as his fellow journalist Karl Kraus (1874-1936), the cut can be rich, marbled and juicy...Topics in other pieces gathered here range from highbrow analysis ('Criticism as the Fundamental Discipline of Literary History') to pop-culture commentary ('Reflections on Radio,' 'Mickey Mouse'). -- Dennis Drabelle Washington Post Book World 20050828

Table of contents

The Destructive Character, 1931 In Parallel with My Actual Diary Criticism as the Fundamental Discipline of Literary History Critique of the New Objectivity We Ought to Reexamine the Link between Teaching and Research Hofmannsthal and Aleco Dossena Left-Wing Melancholy Theological Criticism Karl Kraus Literary History and the Study of Literature German Letters May-June 1931 Unpacking My Library Franz Kafka: Beim Bau der Chinesischen Mauer Diary from August 7, 1931, to the Day of My Death Little History of Photography Paul Valery The Lisbon Earthquake The Destructive Character Reflections on Radio Mickey Mouse In Almost Every Example We Have of Materialist Literary History The Task of the Critic Ibizan Sequence, 1932 Experience On Ships, Mine Shafts, and Crucifixes in Bottles On the Trail of Old Letters A Family Drama in the Epic Theater The Railway Disaster at the Firth of Tay Privileged Thinking Excavation and Memory Oedipus, or Rational Myth On Proverbs Theater and Radio Ibizan Sequence A Berlin Chronicle Spain, 1932 Light from Obscurantists The Handkerchief In the Sun The Rigorous Study of Art Hashish in Marseilles The Eve of Departure On Astrology "Try to Ensure that Everything in Life Has a Consequence" Notes (IV) Thought Figures, 1933 The Lamp Doctrine of the Similar Short Shadows (II) Kierkegaard Stefan George in Retrospect Agesilaus Santander (First Version) Agesilaus Santander (Second Version) Antitheses Concerning Word and Name On the Mimetic Faculty Thought Figures Little Tricks of the Trade Experience and Poverty The Author's Producer, 1934 Once Is as Good as Never The Newspaper Venal but Unusable The Present Social Situation of the French Writer The Author as Producer Notes from Svendborg, Summer 1934 Hitler's Diminished Masculinity Franz Kafka A Note on the Texts Chronology, 1927-1934 Index