Selected Writings: 1913-1926, Volume 1

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Harvard University Press, 1996 - Literary Criticism - 520 pages
4 Reviews
Walter Benjamin was one of the most original and important critical voices of the twentieth century, but until now only a few of his writings have been available in English. Harvard University Press has now undertaken to publish a significant portion of his work in definitive translation, under the general editorship of Michael W. Jennings. This volume, the first of three, will at last give readers of English a true sense of the man and the many facets of his thought. (The magnum opus of Benjamin‚e(tm)s Paris years, The Arcades Project, has been published in a separate volume.)Walter Benjamin emerged from the head-on collision of an idealistic youth movement and the First World War, which Benjamin and his close friends thought immoral. He walked away from the wreck scarred yet determined ‚eoeto be considered as the principal critic of German literature.‚e But the scene, as he found it, was dominated by ‚eoetalented fakes,‚e so‚e"to use his words‚e"‚eoeonly a terrorist campaign would I suffice‚e to effect radical change. This book offers the record of the first phase of that campaign, culminating with ‚eoeOne Way Street,‚e one of the most significant products of the German avant-garde of the Twenties. Against conformism, homogeneity, and gentrification of all life into a new world order, Benjamin made the word his sword.Volume I of the Selected Writings brings together essays long and short, academic treatises, reviews, fragments, and privately circulated pronouncements. Fully five-sixths of this material has never before been translated into English. The contents begin in 1913, when Benjamin, as an undergraduate in imperial Germany, was president of a radical youth group, and take us through 1926, when he had already begun, with his explorations of the world of mass culture, to emerge as a critical voice in Weimar Germany‚e(tm)s most influential journals.The volume includes a number of his most important works, including ‚eoeTwo Poems by Friedrich H√∂lderlin,‚e ‚eoeGoethe‚e(tm)s Elective Affinities,‚e ‚eoeThe Concept of Criticism in German Romanticism,‚e ‚eoeThe Task of the Translator,‚e and ‚eoeOne Way Street.‚e He is as compelling and insightful when musing on riddles or children‚e(tm)s books as he is when dealing with weightier issues such as the philosophy of language, symbolic logic, or epistemology. We meet Benjamin the youthful idealist, the sober moralist, the political theorist, the experimentalist, the translator, and, above all, the virtual king of criticism, with his magisterial exposition of the basic problems of aesthetics.Benjamin‚e(tm)s sentences provoke us to return to them again and again, luring us as though with the promise of some final revelation that is always being postponed. He is by turns fierce and tender, melancholy and ebullient; he is at once classically rooted, even archaic, in his explorations of the human psyche and the world of things, and strikingly progressive in his attitude toward society and what he likes to call the organs of the collective (its architectures, fashions, signboards). Throughout, he displays a far-sighted urgency, judging the present on the basis of possible futures. And he is gifted with a keen sense of humor. Mysterious though he may sometimes be (his Latvian love, Asia Lacis, once described him as a visitor from another planet), Benjamin remains perhaps the most consistently surprising and challenging of critical writers.
  

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Review: Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Volume 1, 1913-1926

User Review  - Daniel Duarte - Goodreads

im reaing a specific article about the art in the age of reproductibility for a subject at university, which name is commnicationd and aesthetics. Read full review

Review: Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Volume 1, 1913-1926

User Review  - منى كريم - Goodreads

I really love his writings about fiction although he is so repetitive in diagnosing Bourgeois literature and inaesthetically praising soviet realism Read full review

Contents

METAPHYSICS OF YOUTH 19131919
3
Two Poems by Friedrich Holderlin
18
The Life of Students
37
A Childs View of Color
50
Theses on the Problem of Identity
75
Triangle
90
Comments on Gundolfs Goethe
97
Stifter
111
Language and Logic IIII
272
Truth and Truths Knowledge and Elements of Knowledge
278
The Philosophy of History of the Late Romantics and the Historical
284
Announcement of the Journal Angelus Novus
292
Baudelaire II III
361
Letter to Florens Christian Rang
387
Outline of the Psychophysical Problem
393
Even the Sacramental Migrates into Myth
402

Fate and Character
201
Analogy and Relationship
207
The Currently Effective Messianic Elements
213
Categories of Aesthetics
220
World and Time
226
The Medium through Which Works of Art Continue to Influence Later
235
The Task of the Translator
253
Notes for a Study of the Beauty of Colored Illustrations in Childrens
264
Naples
414
Curriculum Vitae I
422
On the Centenary of His Death
428
A Glimpse into the World of Childrens Books
435
OneWay Street
444
A Note on the Texts
489
Index
516
Copyright

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About the author (1996)

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

Marcus Bullock is Professor of German, University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.

Michael W. Jennings is Professor of German, Princeton University.

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