002: Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Volume 2: 1927-1934

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9780674945869: 002: Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Volume 2: 1927-1934
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In the frenzied final years of the Weimar Republic, amid economic collapse and mourning political catastrophe, Walter Benjamin emerged as the most original practicing literary critic and public intellectual in the German-speaking world. Volume 2 of Selected Writings, covering the years 1927 to 1934, displays the full spectrum of Benjamin's achievements at this pivotal stage in his career.

Previously concerned chiefly with literary theory, Benjamin during these Years does pioneering work in new areas, from the stud of popular Culture (a discipline he virtually created) to theories of the media and the visual arts. His writings on the theory of modernity-most of them new to readers of English--develop ideas as important to an understanding of the twentieth century as an contained in his widely anthologiied essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Technological Reproducibility.

This volume brings together previously untranslated writings on major figures such as Brecht, Valéry and Gide, and on subjects ranging from film, radio, and the novel to memory, kitsch, and the theory of language. We find the manifoldly inquisitive Benjamin musing on the new modes of perception opened tip by techniques of photographic enlargement and cinematic montage, on the life and work of & Goethe at Weimar, on the fascination of old toys and the mysteries of food, and on the allegorical significance of Mickey Mouse.

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A leading German critic from the generation of Europeans scarred by the First World War, Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) had a writing career marked by deep philosophical insights and tumultuous emotional crises. But until recently, most of his work was unavailable in English; the handful of essays that could be read in English, like "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," were undisputed classics, but the full spectrum of Benjamin's thought remained untapped. That has changed with Harvard University's publication of the multivolume Selected Writings. This second volume covers Benjamin's work from 1927 to 1934, the period in which he established himself as a leading public intellectual, and encompasses a wide variety of literary forms addressing an even wider variety of subject matter. From interviews with André Gide to film reviews of work by Chaplin and Eisenstein, from the autobiographical recollections of "A Berlin Chronicle" to his reflections on the cultural nostalgia for children's literature and toys, Benjamin wrote with perception and unflagging inquisitiveness. The editors have provided a chronological essay, which helps place the assembled writings in the context of Benjamin's life; the collection considered as a whole will undoubtedly be of vital importance to any scholar of modern European philosophy.

About the Author:

Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) was the author of many works of literary and cultural analysis.

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