You are on page 1of 10

Walter Benjamin

Walter Bendix Schnies Benjamin (German: [valt

bnjamin];[2] 15 July 1892 26 September 1940)[3]
was a German Jewish philosopher and cultural critic. An
eclectic thinker, combining elements of German idealism, Romanticism, Western Marxism, and Jewish mysticism, Benjamin made enduring and inuential contributions to aesthetic theory, literary criticism, and historical
materialism. He was associated with the Frankfurt
School, and also maintained formative friendships with
thinkers such as playwright Bertolt Brecht and Kabbalah
scholar Gershom Scholem. He was also related by law
to German political theorist Hannah Arendt through her
rst marriage to his cousin, Gnther Anders.

In 1912, at the age of twenty, he enrolled at the University

of Freiburg, but, at summer semesters end, returned to
Berlin, then matriculated into the University of Berlin,
to continue studying philosophy. Here Benjamin had his
rst exposure to the ideas of Zionism, which had not been
part of his liberal upbringing. This exposure gave him
occasion to formulate his own ideas about the meaning
of Judaism. Benjamin distanced himself from political
and nationalist Zionism, instead developing in his own
thinking what he called a kind of cultural Zionism
an attitude which recognized and promoted Judaism and
Jewish values. In Benjamins formulation his Jewishness
meant a commitment to the furtherance of European culture. Benjamin expressed My life experience led me to
this insight: the Jews represent an elite in the ranks of
the spiritually active ... For Judaism is to me in no sense
an end in itself, but the most distinguished bearer and
representative of the spiritual. This was a position that
Benjamin largely held lifelong.[4]

Among Benjamins 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 translation
theory. He also made major translations into German of
the Tableaux Parisiens section of Baudelaires Les Fleurs
du mal and parts of Prousts la recherche du temps
perdu. In 1940, at the age of 48, Benjamin committed
suicide in Portbou at the FrenchSpanish border while
attempting to escape from invading Nazi forces. Though
popular acclaim eluded him during his life, the decades
following his death won his work posthumous renown.

Elected president of the Freie Studentenschaft (Free Students Association), Benjamin wrote essays arguing for
educational and general cultural change.[5] When not reelected as student association president, he returned to
Freiburg University to study, with particular attention to
the lectures of Heinrich Rickert; at that time he travelled
to France and Italy.

In 1914, at the outbreak of the First World War (1914

1918), Benjamin began faithfully translating the works of
the 19th-century French poet Charles Baudelaire (1821
1867). The next year, 1915, he moved to Munich, and
1 Life
continued his schooling at the University of Munich,
where he met Rainer Maria Rilke and Gershom Scholem;
1.1 Early life and education
the latter became a friend. In that year, Benjamin wrote
about the 18th-century Romantic German poet Friedrich
Benjamin and his younger siblings, Georg (18951942) Hlderlin (17701843).
and Dora (19011946), were born to a wealthy business
family of assimilated Ashkenazi Jews in the Berlin of the In 1917 he transferred to the University of Bern; there, he
German Empire (18711918). The patriarch, Emil Ben- met Ernst Bloch, and Dora Sophie Pollak (ne Kellner)
jamin, was a banker in Paris who relocated from France (18901964) whom he later married. They had a son,
to Germany, where he worked as an antiques trader in Stefan Rafael (19181972). In 1919 Benjamin earned
Berlin; he later married Pauline Schnies. He owned his Ph.D. cum laude with the dissertation Begri der Kuna number of investments in Berlin, including ice skating stkritik in der Deutschen Romantik (The Concept of Art
rinks. In 1902, ten-year-old Walter was enrolled to the Criticism in German Romanticism). Later, unable to supKaiser Friedrich School in Charlottenburg; he completed port himself and family, he returned to Berlin and resided
his secondary school studies ten years later. Walter Ben- with his parents. In 1921 he published the essay Kritik
jamin was a boy of fragile health and so in 1905 the family der Gewalt (The Critique of Violence). At this time Bensent him to Hermann-Lietz-Schule Haubinda, a boarding jamin rst became socially acquainted with Leo Strauss,
admirer of Strauss and of his work
school in the Thuringian countryside, for two years; in and would remain an
1907, having returned to Berlin, he resumed his schooling at the Kaiser Friedrich School.[3]




briey embarked upon an academic career, as an instructor at the University of Heidelberg.

In 1923, when the Institut fr Sozialforschung (Institute

for Social Research) was founded, later to become home
to the Frankfurt School, Benjamin published Charles
Baudelaire, Tableaux Parisiens. At that time he became
acquainted with Theodor Adorno and befriended Georg
Lukcs, whose The Theory of the Novel (1920) much inuenced him. Meanwhile, the ination in the Weimar
Republic consequent to the First World War made it difcult for the father Emil Benjamin to continue supporting
his sons family. At the end of 1923 his best friend Gershom Scholem emigrated to Palestine, a country under
the British Mandate of Palestine; despite repeated invitations, he failed to persuade Benjamin (and family) to
leave the Continent for the Middle East.

Exile and death

In 1924 Hugo von Hofmannsthal, in the Neue Deutsche

Beitrge magazine, published Goethes Wahlverwandtschaften (Elective Anities), by Walter Benjamin,
about Goethes third novel, Die Wahlverwandtschaften
(1809). Later that year Benjamin and Ernst Bloch
resided on the Italian island of Capri; Benjamin wrote
Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspiels (The Origin of
German Tragic Drama), as a habilitation dissertation
meant to qualify him as a tenured university professor in
Germany. He also read, at Blochs suggestion, History
and Class Consciousness (1923) by Georg Lukcs. He
also met the Latvian Bolshevik and actress Asja Lcis,
then residing in Moscow; she became his lover and was
a lasting intellectual inuence upon him.
A year later, in 1925, Benjamin withdrew the The Origin of German Tragic Drama as his possible qualication
for the habilitation teaching credential at the University
of Frankfurt at Frankfurt am Main, fearing its possible rejection;[9] he was not to be an academic instructor. Working with Franz Hessel (18801941) he translated the rst volumes of la Recherche du Temps Perdu
(In Search of Lost Time) by Marcel Proust. The next
year, 1926, he began writing for the German newspapers
Frankfurter Zeitung (The Frankfurt Times) and Die Literarische Welt (The Literary World); that paid enough for
him to reside in Paris for some months. In December
1926 (the year his father, Emil Benjamin, died) Walter
Benjamin went to Moscow to meet Asja Lcis and found
her ill in a sanatorium.[10]

Walter Benjamins Paris apartment at 10 rue Dombasle (1938


In 1932, during the turmoil preceding Adolf Hitler's assumption of the oce of Chancellor of Germany, Walter
Benjamin left Germany for the Spanish island of Ibiza for
some months; he then moved to Nice, where he considered killing himself. Perceiving the socio-political and
cultural signicance of the Reichstag re (27 February
1933) as the de facto Nazi assumption of full power in
Germany, then manifest with the subsequent persecution
of the Jews, he moved to Paris, but, before doing so, he
sought shelter in Svendborg, at Bertold Brechts house,
and at Sanremo, where his ex-wife Dora lived.
As he ran out of money, Benjamin collaborated with
Max Horkheimer, and received funds from the Institute
for Social Research, later going permanently into exile. In Paris, he met other German artists and intellectuals, refugees there from Germany; he befriended Hannah
Arendt, novelist Hermann Hesse, and composer Kurt
Weill. In 1936, a rst version of The Work of Art in the
Age of Mechanical Reproduction (L'uvre d'art l'poque
de sa reproduction mchanise) was published, in French,
by Max Horkheimer in the Zeitschrift fr Sozialforschung
journal of the Institute for Social Research.

In 1927, he began Das Passagen-Werk (The Arcades

Project), his uncompleted magnum opus, a study of 19thcentury Parisian life. The same year, he saw Gershom
Scholem in Berlin, for the last time, and considered emigrating from Continental Europe (Germany) to Palestine. In 1928, he and Dora separated (they divorced two
years later, in 1930); in the same year he published Einbahnstrae (One-Way Street), and a revision of his habilitation dissertation Ursprung des Deutschen Trauerspiels
(The Origin of German Tragic Drama). In 1929 Berlin,
Asja Lcis, then assistant to Bertolt Brecht, socially pre- In 1937 Benjamin worked on Das Paris des Second Emsented the intellectuals to each other. In that time, he also pire bei Baudelaire (The Paris of the Second Empire in

Baudelaire), met Georges Bataille (to whom he later entrusted the Arcades Project manuscript), and joined the
College of Sociology. In 1938 he paid a last visit to
Bertolt Brecht, who was exiled to Denmark. Meanwhile,
the Nazi Rgime stripped German Jews of their German citizenship; now a stateless man, Benjamin was arrested by the French government and incarcerated for
three months in a prison camp near Nevers, in central

Gusen concentration camp in 1942. Despite his suicide,

Benjamin was buried in the consecrated section of a Roman Catholic cemetery.
The others in his party were allowed passage the next
day, and safely reached Lisbon on 30 September. Hannah
Arendt, who crossed the French-Spanish border at Portbou a few months later, passed the manuscript of Theses
to Adorno. Another completed manuscript, which Benjamin had carried in his suitcase, disappeared after his
death and has not been recovered. Some critics speculate
that it was his Arcades Project in a nal form; this is very
unlikely as the authors plans for the work had changed
in the wake of Adornos criticisms in 1938, and it seems
clear that the work was owing over its containing limits
in his last years.

2 Thought
Walter Benjamin corresponded much with Theodor
Adorno and Bertolt Brecht, and was occasionally funded
by the Frankfurt School under the direction of Adorno
and Horkheimer, even from their New York City resWalter Benjamins grave in Portbou. The epitaph in German, re- idence. The competing inuencesBrechts Marxism,
peated in Catalan, quotes from Section 7 of Theses on the Phi- Adornos critical theory, Gerschom Scholems Jewish
losophy of History: There is no document of civilization which mysticismwere central to his work, although their
philosophic dierences remained unresolved. Moreover,
is not at the same time a document of barbarism
the critic Paul de Man argued that the intellectual range of
Returning to Paris in January 1940, he wrote ber den Benjamins writings ows dynamically among those three
Begri der Geschichte (On the Concept of History, later intellectual traditions, deriving a critique via juxtaposipublished as Theses on the Philosophy of History). As tion; the exemplary synthesis is Theses on the Philosophy
the Wehrmacht defeated the French defence, on 13 June, of History.
Benjamin and his sister ed Paris to the town of Lourdes,
a day before the Germans entered Paris (14 June 1940),
with orders to arrest him at his at. In August, he ob- 2.1 Theses on the Philosophy of History
tained a travel visa to the US that Max Horkheimer had
negotiated for him. In eluding the Gestapo, Benjamin Main article: Theses on the Philosophy of History
planned to travel to the US from neutral Portugal, which
he expected to reach via fascist Spain, then ostensibly a Theses on the Philosophy of History is often cited as Benneutral country.
jamins last complete work, having been completed, acThe historical record indicates that he safely crossed the cording to Adorno, in the spring of 1940. The Institute
FrenchSpanish border and arrived at the coastal town for Social Research, which had relocated to New York,
of Portbou, in Catalonia. The Franco government had published Theses in Benjamins memory in 1942. Marcancelled all transit visas and ordered the Spanish po- garet Cohen writes in the Cambridge Companion to Wallice to return such persons to France, including the Jew- ter Benjamin:
ish refugee group Benjamin had joined. It was told by
the Spanish police that it would be deported back to
France, which would have destroyed Benjamins plans to
travel to the United States. Expecting repatriation to Nazi
hands, Walter Benjamin killed himself with an overdose
of morphine tablets on the night of 25 September 1940
while staying in the Hotel de Francia; the ocial Portbou register records 26 September 1940 as the ocial
date of death.[3][11][12][13] Benjamins colleague Arthur
Koestler, also eeing Europe, attempted suicide by taking some of the morphine tablets, but he survived.[14]
Benjamins brother Georg was killed at the Mauthausen-

In the Concept of History Benjamin also

turned to Jewish mysticism for a model of
praxis in dark times, inspired by the kabbalistic precept that the work of the holy man is
an activity known as tikkun. According to the
kabbalah, Gods attributes were once held in
vessels whose glass was contaminated by the
presence of evil and these vessels had consequently shattered, disseminating their contents
to the four corners of the earth. Tikkun was the
process of collecting the scattered fragments in

The nal paragraph about the Jewish quest for the
Messiah provides a harrowing nal point to Benjamins
work, with its themes of culture, destruction, Jewish heritage and the ght between humanity and nihilism. He
brings up the interdiction, in some varieties of Judaism, to
try to determine the year when the Messiah would come
into the world, and points out that this did not make Jews
indierent to the future for every second of time was the
strait gate through which the Messiah might enter.


The Origin of German Tragic Drama

Main article: The Origin of German Tragic Drama

Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspiels (The Origin of German Tragic Drama, 1928), is a critical study of German baroque drama, as well as the political and cultural
climate of Germany during the Counter-Reformation
(15451648). Benjamin presented the work to the University of Frankfurt in 1925 as the (post-doctoral) dissertation meant to earn him the Habilitation (qualication)
to become a university instructor in Germany.
Paul Klee's 1920 painting Angelus Novus, which Benjamin compared to the angel of history

the hopes of once more piecing them together.

Benjamin fused tikkun with the Surrealist notion that liberation would come through releasing repressed collective material, to produce
his celebrated account of the revolutionary historiographer, who sought to grab hold of elided
memories as they sparked to view at moments
of present danger.

Professor Schultz of University of Frankfurt found The

Origin of German Tragic Drama inappropriate for his
Germanistik department (Department of German Language and Literature), and passed it to the Department
of Aesthetics (philosophy of art), the readers of which
likewise dismissed Benjamins work. The university ofcials recommended that Benjamin withdraw Ursprung
des deutschen Trauerspiels as a Habilitation dissertation to
avoid formal rejection and public embarrassment.[9] He
heeded the advice, and three years later, in 1928, he published The Origin of German Tragic Drama as a book.[15]

In the essay, Benjamins famed ninth thesis struggles to 2.3 The Arcades Project
reconcile the Idea of Progress in the present with the apMain article: Arcades Project
parent chaos of the past:
A Klee painting named Angelus Novus
shows an angel looking as though he is about to
move away from something he is xedly contemplating. His eyes are staring, his mouth
is open, his wings are spread. This is how
one pictures the angel of history. His face is
turned toward the past. Where we perceive a
chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe
which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage
and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would
like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole
what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings
with such violence that the angel can no longer
close them. The storm irresistibly propels him
into the future to which his back is turned,
while the pile of debris before him grows skyward. This storm is what we call progress.

The Passagenwerk (Arcades Project, 192740), was Walter Benjamins nal, incomplete book about Parisian city
life in the 19th century, especially about the Passages
couverts de Paris the covered passages that extended the
culture of nerie (idling and people-watching) when inclement weather made nerie infeasible in the boulevards and streets proper.
The Arcades Project, in its current form, brings together a
massive collection of notes which Benjamin led together
over the course of thirteen years, from 1927 to 1940.[16]
The Arcades Project was published for the rst time in
1982, and is over a thousand pages long.

2.4 Writing style

Susan Sontag said that in Walter Benjamins writing, sen-

tences did not originate ordinarily, do not progress into
one another, and delineate no obvious line of reasoning,
as if each sentence had to say everything, before the
inward gaze of total concentration dissolved the subject
before his eyes, a freeze-frame baroque style of writing and cogitation. His major essays seem to end just
in time, before they self-destruct.[17] The diculty of
Benjamins writing style is essential to his philosophical
project. Fascinated by notions of reference and constellation, his goal in later works was to use intertexts to reveal
aspects of the past that cannot, and should not, be understood within greater, monolithic constructs of historical

4 Legacy and reception

Since the publication of Schriften (Writings, 1955) fteen years after his death, Benjamins workespecially
the essay The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical
Reproduction (1936)has become of seminal importance to academics in the humanities disciplines. And
after a further thirteen years, the rst Internationale Walter Benjamin Gesellschaft was established by the German
thinker, poet and artist Natias Neutert, as a free association of philosophers, writers, artists, media theoreticians and editors. They did not take Benjamins body
of thought as a scholastic closed architecture [...], but
Walter Benjamins writings identify him as a modernist as one in which all doors, windows and roof hatches are
for whom the philosophic merges with the literary: log- widely open, as the founder Neutert put itmore poet[18]
ical philosophic reasoning cannot account for all expe- ically than politicallyin his manifesto.
rience, especially not for self-representation via art. He The members felt liberated to take Benjamins ideas as a
presented his stylistic concerns in The Task of the Trans- welcome touchstone for social change quality of Pop mulator, wherein he posits that a literary translation, by def- sic for example.[19] Alike the rst Internationale Walter
inition, produces deformations and misunderstandings of Benjamin Gesellschaft of 1968, a new one, established
the original text. Moreover, in the deformed text, other- in 2000, researches and discusses also under Walter Benwise hidden aspects of the original, source-language text jamins imperative, written down in Theses on the Philosare elucidated, while previously obvious aspects become ophy of History: In every era the attempt must be made
unreadable. Such translational mortication of the source anew to wrest the tradition away from a conformism that
text is productive; when placed in a specic constellation is about to overpower it. (Walter Benjamin).
of works and ideas, newly revealed anities, between historical objects, appear and are productive of philosophi- The successor society was registered in Karlsruhe (Germany); Chairman of the Board of Directors was Bernd
cal truth.
Witte, an internationally recognized Benjamin scholar
His work The Task of the Translator was later commented and Professor of Modern German Literature in Dsselby the French translation scholar Antoine Berman (L'ge dorf (Germany). Its members come from 19 countries,
de la traduction).
both within and beyond Europe and represents an international forum for discourse. The Society supported research endeavors devoted to the creative and visionary
3 Works
potential of Benjamins works and their view of 20th century modernism. Special emphasis had been placed upon
strengthening academic ties to Latin America and Eastern
Among Walter Benjamins works are:
and Central Europe.[20] The society conducts conferences
and exhibitions, as well as interdisciplinary and interme Zur Kritik der Gewalt (Critique of Violence, 1921)
dial events, at regular intervals and dierent European
Goethes Wahlverwandtschaften (Goethes Elective venues:
Anities, 1922)
Barcelona Conference September 2000
Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspiels (The Origin of
German Tragic Drama, 1928)
Einbahnstrae (One Way Street, 1928)
Karl Kraus (1931 in the Frankfurter Zeitung)
Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit (The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, 1936)

Walter-Benjamin-Evening at Berlin November

Walter-Benjamin-Evening at Karlsruhe January
Rome Conference November 2003
Zurich Conference October 2004

Berliner Kindheit um 1900 (Berlin Childhood around

1900, 1950)

Paris Conference June 2005

ber den Begri der Geschichte (On the Concept of

History / Theses on the Philosophy of History), 1940

Dsseldorf Conference November 2005

Das Paris des Second Empire bei Baudelaire (The

Paris of the Second Empire in Baudelaire, 1938)

Dsseldorf Conference June 2005

Antwerpen Conference May 2006
Vienna Conference March 2007[21]



[2] Duden Aussprachewrterbuch (6 ed.). Mannheim: Bibliographisches Institut & F.A. Brockhaus AG. 2006.
[3] Witte, Bernd (1991). Walter Benjamin: An Intellectual
Biography (English translation). Detroit, MI: Wayne State
University Press. p. 9. ISBN 0-8143-2018-X.
[4] Witte, Bernd. (1996). Walter Benjamin: An Intellectual
Biography. New York: Verso. pp. 2627
[5] Experience, 1913
[6] Jewish philosophy and the crisis of modernity (SUNY
1997), Leo Strauss as a Modern Jewish thinker, Kenneth
Hart Green, Leo Strauss, page 55
[7] Scholem, Gershom. 1981. Walter Benjamin: The Story
of a Friendship. Trans. Harry Zohn, page 201







[8] The Correspondence of Walter Benjamin and Gershom Scholem, 193240, New York 1989, page 155-58
[9] Jane O. Newman, Benjamins Library: Modernity, Nation, and the Baroque, Cornell University Press, 2011, p.
28: " ocials in Frankfurt recommended that
Benjamin withdraw the work from consideration as his

A commemorative plaque is located by the residence where Benjamin lived in Berlin during the
years 19301933: (Prinzregentenstrae 66, BerlinWilmersdorf). Close by Kurfrstendamm, in the district
of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, a town square created [10] Moscow Diary
by Hans Kollho in 2001 was named Walter-Benjamin- [11] Jay, Martin The Dialectical Imagination: A History of
the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research

See also
Gertrud Kolmar
Michael Heller
Angelus Novus


[1] Walter Benjamin, Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit, 1936: The uniqueness of a
work of art is inseparable from its being imbedded in the
fabric of tradition. This tradition itself is thoroughly alive
and extremely changeable. An ancient statue of Venus, for
example, stood in a dierent traditional context with the
Greeks, who made it an object of veneration, than with the
clerics of the Middle Ages, who viewed it as an ominous
idol. Both of them, however, were equally confronted
with its uniqueness, that is, its aura. [Die Einzigkeit des
Kunstwerks ist identisch mit seinem Eingebettetsein in den
Zusammenhang der Tradition. Diese Tradition selber ist
freilich etwas durchaus Lebendiges, etwas auerordentlich
Wandelbares. Eine antike Venusstatue z. B. stand in einem
anderen Traditionszusammenhange bei den Griechen, die
sie zum Gegenstand des Kultus machten, als bei den mittelalterlichen Klerikern, die einen unheilvollen Abgott in ihr
erblickten. Was aber beiden in gleicher Weise entgegentrat,
war ihre Einzigkeit, mit einem anderen Wort: ihre Aura.]

[12] Leslie, Esther (2000). Benjamins Finale. Walter Benjamin: Overpowering Conformism. Modern European
Thinkers. Pluto Press. p. 215. ISBN 978-0-7453-15683. Retrieved August 28, 2009.
[13] Lester, David (2005). Suicide to Escape Capture:
Cases. Suicide and the Holocaust. Nova Publishers. p.
74. ISBN 978-1-59454-427-9. Retrieved August 28,
[14] Afraid of being caught by the Gestapo while eeing
France, [Koestler] borrowed suicide pills from Walter
Benjamin. He took them several weeks later when it
seemed he would be unable to get out of Lisbon, but didn't
die. Anne Applebaum, "Did The Death Of Communism
Take Koestler And Other Literary Figures With It?" Huington Post, 28 March 2010, URL retrieved 15 March
[15] Introducing Walter Benjamin, Howard Cargill, Alex Coles,
Andrey Klimowski, 1998, p. 112
[16] Buck-Morss, Susan. The Dialectics of Seeing. The MIT
Press, 1991, p. 5.
[17] Susan Sontag Under the Sign of Saturn, p. 129.
[18] Cf. Mit Walter Benjamin. Grndungsmanifest der Internationalen Walter-Benjamin-Gesellschaft. Copyleft Verlag, Hamburg, 1968, p. 6.
[19] Hereto Helmut Salzinger: Swinging Benjamin. Verlag
Michael Kellner, Hamburg 1990. ISBN 3-927623-05-9


Secondary literature

[21] Cf.

[22] Stadtplatz aus Stein: Ernung der Leibniz-Kolonnaden in

Further reading


Primary literature

The Arcades Project, Harvard University Press,

ISBN 0-674-00802-2
Berlin Childhood Around 1900, Harvard University
Press, ISBN 0-674-02222-X
Charles Baudelaire: A Lyric Poet In The Era Of High
Capitalism. ISBN 0-902308-94-7
The Complete Correspondence, 19281940, Harvard
University Press, ISBN 0-674-15427-4
The Correspondence of Walter Benjamin, 1910
1940. ISBN 0-226-04237-5
The Correspondence of Walter Benjamin and Gershom Scholem. ISBN 0-674-17415-1
Illuminations. ISBN 0-8052-0241-2
Moscow Diary, Harvard University Press, ISBN 0674-58744-8
One Way Street and Other Writings. ISBN 0-86091836-X
Reections. ISBN 0-8052-0802-X
On Hashish, Harvard University Press, ISBN 0-67402221-1
The Origin of German Tragic Drama. ISBN 086091-837-8
Understanding Brecht. ISBN 0-902308-99-8
Selected Writings in four volumes Harvard University Press:

8.2 Secondary literature

Adorno, Theodor. (1967). Prisms (Studies in
Contemporary German Social Thought). London: Neville Spearman Ltd. [reprinted by MIT
Press, Cambridge, 1981. ISBN 978-0-262-01064-1
(cloth) ISBN 978-0-262-51025-7 (paper)]
Victor Malsey, Uwe Raseh, Peter Rautmann, Nicolas Schalz, Rosi Huhn, Passages. D'aprs Walter Benjamin / Passagen. Nach Walter Benjamin.
Mainz: Herman Schmidt, 1992. ISBN 3-87439251-1
Benjamin, Andrew and Peter Osborne, eds. (1993).
Walter Benjamins Philosophy: Destruction and Experience. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-41508368-3 (cloth) ISBN 978-0-415-08369-0 (paper) [reprinted by Clinamen Press, Manchester,
2000. ISBN 978-1-903083-08-6 (paper)]
Buck-Morss, Susan. (1991). The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project. Cambridge: The MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-02268-2
(cloth) ISBN 978-0-262-52164-2 (paper)
Betancourt, Alex. (2008). Walter Benjamin and
Sigmund Freud: Between Theory and Politics. Saarbrcken, Germany: VDM Verlag. ISBN 978-38364-3854-4
Derrida, Jacques. (2001). Force of Law: The
'Mystical Foundation of Authority'", in Acts of
Religion, Gil Anidjar, ed. London: Routledge.
ISBN 978-0-415-92400-9 (cloth) ISBN 978-0415-92401-6
Caygill, Howard. (1998) Walter Benjamin: The
Colour of Experience. London: Routledge.
de Man, Paul. (1986). "'Conclusions: Walter Benjamins 'Task of the Translator'", in The Resistance
to Theory. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota
Press. pp. 73105. ISBN 0-8166-1294-3

Volume 1, 19131926, ISBN 0-674-94585-9

Volume 2, 19271934, ISBN 0-674-94586-7
Volume 3, 19351938, ISBN 0-674-00896-0
Volume 4, 19381940, ISBN 0-674-01076-0

Eiland, Howard and Michael W. Jennings. (2014).

Walter Benjamin: A Critical Life. Cambridge, MA
and London: Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780-674-05186-7

The Writer of Modern Life: Essays on Charles

Baudelaire, Harvard University Press, ISBN 0-67402287-4,

Ferris, David S., ed. (1996). Walter Benjamin: Theoretical Questions. Stanford: Stanford University
Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-2569-9 (cloth) ISBN
978-0-8047-2570-5 (paper)

The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, and Other Writings on Media, Harvard
University Press, ISBN 0-674-02445-1
Walter Benjamins Archive: Images, Texts, Signs.
Edited by Ursula Marx, Gudrun Schwarz, Michael
Schwarz, Erdmut Wizisla. ISBN 978-1-84467-1960

__________. (2004). The Cambridge Companion

to Walter Benjamin. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-79329-7 (cloth) ISBN
0-521-79724-1 (paper)
Gandler, Stefan (2010). The Concept of History
in Walter Benjamins Critical Theory, in Radical

Philosophy Review, San Francisco, CA, Vol. 13, Nr.
1, pp. 1942. ISSN 1388-4441.
Jacobs, Carol. (1999). In the Language of Walter Benjamin. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press.
ISBN 978-0-8018-6031-7 (cloth) ISBN 978-08018-6669-2 (paper)
Jennings, Michael. (1987). Dialectical Images:
Walter Benjamins Theory of Literary Criticism.
Ithaca: Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-08014-2006-1 (cloth)
Jacobson, Eric. (2003). Metaphysics of the Profane:
The Political Theology of Walter Benjamin and Gershom Scholem. New York: Columbia University
Press, ISBN 978-0-231-12657-1, S. 352.
Kermode, Frank. Every Kind of Intelligence; Benjamin, New York Times. 30 July 1978.
Kirst-Gundersen, Karoline.
Walter Benjamins
Theory of Narrative. Dissertation, University of
Wisconsin-Madison, 1989
Leslie, Esther. (2000). Walter Benjamin, Overpowering Conformism. London: Pluto Press. ISBN 9780-7453-1573-7 (cloth) ISBN 978-0-7453-1568-3
Lindner, Burkhardt, ed. (2006). BenjaminHandbuch: Leben Werk Wirkung Stuttgart:
Metzler. ISBN 978-3-476-01985-1 (paper)

Pignotti, Sandro (2009): Walter Benjamin Judentum und Literatur. Tradition, Ursprung, Lehre mit
einer kurzen Geschichte des Zionismus. Rombach,
Freiburg ISBN 978-3-7930-9547-7
Plate, S. Brent (2004) Walter Benjamin, Religion
and Aesthetics. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415-96992-5
Roberts, Julian (1982). Walter Benjamin. London:
Rudel, Tilla (2006) : Walter Benjamin L'Ange assassin, d. Menges Place Des Victoires, 2006
Rutigliano, Enzo: Lo sguardo dell'angelo, Bari,
Dedalo, 1983
Scheurmann, Ingrid, ed., Scheurmann, Konrad ed.,
Unseld, Siegfried (Author), Menninghaus, Winfried
(Author), Timothy Nevill (Translator) (1993). For
Walter Benjamin Documentation, Essays and a
Sketch including: New Documents on Walter Benjamins Death. Bonn: AsKI e.V. ISBN 3-93037000-X
Scheurmann, Ingrid / Scheurmann, Konrad (1995).
Dani Karavan Hommage an Walter Benjamin. Der
Gedenkort 'Passagen' in Portbou. Homage to Walter
Benjamin. 'Passages Place of Remembrance at Portbou. Mainz: Zabern. ISBN 3-8053-1865-0

Lwy, Michael. (2005). Fire Alarm: Reading Walter Benjamins 'On the Concept of History.' Trans.
Chris Turner. London and New York: Verso.

Scheurmann, Konrad (1994) Passages Dani Karavan: An Environment in Remembrance of Walter Benjamin Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Bonn:
AsKI e.V. ISBN 3-930370-01-8

Menke, Bettine. (2010). Das Trauerspiel-Buch.

Der Souvern das Trauerspiel Konstellationen
Ruinen. Bielefeld: transcript-Verlag. ISBN 978-389942-634-2.

Schiavoni, Giulio. (2001). Walter Benjamin: Il

glio della felicit. Un percorso biograco e concettuale. Turin: Giulio Einaudi Editore. ISBN 8806-15729-9

Missac, Pierre (1996). Walter Benjamins Passages.

Cambridge: MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-13305-0
(cloth) ISBN 978-0-262-63175-4(paper)

Scholem, Gershom. (2003). Walter Benjamin: The

Story of a Friendship. Trans. Harry Zohn. New
York: New York Review Books. ISBN 1-59017032-6

Neutert, Natias : Mit Walter Benjamin! Poetophilosophisches Manifest zur Grndung der Internationalen Walter Benjamin Gesellschaft. Ldke Verlag, Hamburg 1968.
Perret, Catherine Walter Benjamin sans destin,
Ed. La Dirence, Paris, 1992, rd. revue et
augmente d'une prface, Bruxelles, d. La Lettre
vole, 2007.
Perrier, Florent, ed., Palmier, Jean-Michel (Author), Marc Jimenez (Preface). (2006) Walter Benjamin. Le chionnier, l'Ange et le Petit Bossu. Paris:
Klincksieck. ISBN 978-2-252-03591-7

Steinberg, Michael P., ed. (1996). Walter Benjamin

and the Demands of History. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0-8014-3135-7 (cloth)
ISBN 978-0-8014-8257-1 (paper)
Steiner, Uwe. (2010). Walter Benjamin: An Introduction to his Work and Thought. Trans. Michael
Winkler. Chicago and London: University of
Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-77221-9
Taussig, Michael. (2006). Walter Benjamins Grave.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 9780-226-79004-6.

Weber, Samuel. (2008). Benjamins -abilities.
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN
0-674-02837-6 (cloth) ISBN 0-674-04606-4 (paper)

From 'Rausch' to Rebellion An introductory essay

by Scott J. Thompson

Witte, Bernd. (1996). Walter Benjamin: An Intellectual Biography. New York: Verso. ISBN 978-185984-967-5

Walter Benjamin Research Syndicate

Wizisla, Erdmut. 2009. Walter Benjamin and

Bertolt Brecht The Story of a Friendship. Translated by Christine Shuttleworth. London / New
Haven: Libris / Yale University Press. ISBN 9781-870352-78-9 [Contains a complete translation
of the newly discovered Minutes of the meetings
around the putative journal Krise und Kritik (1931)].

Paris, capitale du XIXe sicle In French

Walter Benjamin for Historians, American Historical Review, Vol. 106, No. 5. December 2001.
Walter Benjamin on the idea of Progress ...and the
law of uneven and combined development
Who Killed Walter Benjamin..., (Spain/The Netherlands/Germany, 2005, 73 min.) a documentary
lm about the circumstances of Benjamins death by
David Mauas

Wolin, Richard, Telos 43, An Aesthetic of Redemption: Benjamins Path to Trauerspiel. New York: Telos Press Ltd., Spring 1980. (Telos Press).

Paris, capital of 19th century, an essay/experimental

lm about the Passagen-Werk by Benjamin Bardou,
France, 2010, 10'

Wolin, Richard, Telos 53, The Benjamin-Congress:

Frankfurt (July 13, 1982). New York: Telos Press
Ltd., Fall 1982. (Telos Press).

The Mysterious Death of Walter Benjamin, Stephen

Schwartz, The Weekly Standard, Volume 006, Issue
37, 11 June 2001

Urbich, Jan (2011). Darstellung bei Walter Benjamin. Die 'Erkenntniskritische Vorrede' im Kontext sthetischer Darstellungstheorien der Moderne, Berlin: De Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-11026515-6

Through the Trapdoor: review of The Narrow

Foothold by Carina Birman describes Benjamins nal days

The Dialectics of Allegoresis: Historical Materialism in Benjamins Illuminations, John Parker

External links
Works by Walter Benjamin at Open Library
Works by or about Walter Benjamin in libraries
(WorldCat catalog)
Walter Benjamin, at the Stanford Encyclopedia of
The Internationale Walter Benjamin Gesellschaft.
In English and German. (Defunct)
Walter Benjamin at
Fragments of the Passagenwerk:
Project, Giles Peaker

The Arcades Project or The Rhetoric of Hypertext,

Heather Marcelle Crickenberger

The Arcades

Aufklrung fr Kinder, by Walter Benjamin. 30

broadcasts for German Radio between 19291932
specically for children, maybe 714 or so, each
consisting of a 20-minute talk or monologue.
One Way Street: Fragments for Walter Benjamin
(1993), by John Hughes. This documentary provides clear and accessible introductions to some of
the central ideas in Benjamins writings.
Protocols to the Experiments on Hashish, Opium
and Mescaline Translated by Scott J. Thompson,
copyright March 25, 1997





Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses


Walter Benjamin Source: Contributors: William Avery, R Lowry,

Jahsonic, Gdarin, Lquilter, Nine Tail Fox, Poor Yorick, Netsnipe, Wernerbh, Ruhrjung, Raven in Orbit, Denny, Frieda, Vanished user
5zariu3jisj0j4irj, Bhuston, Rbellin, MK~enwiki, Moncrief, Jmabel, Sunray, UtherSRG, Bmschmidt, LarryGilbert, Pteron, Hans castorp81~enwiki, Arsene, Phil Sandifer, Rdsmith4, DragonySixtyseven, Q9, Karl-Henner, Sonett72, D6, Jayjg, Simonides, Ma'ame Michu,
Buyg, Alexrexpvt, Rich Farmbrough, Guanabot, JPX7, Bender235, Kwamikagami, MPerel, Nathanwrichards, Philip Cross, Noosphere,
Andrew Norman, Grenavitar, Szessi~enwiki, Embryomystic, Mhazard9, Velho, Bratsche, Jburnette, Zzyzx11, Palica, Mandarax, Lusitana,
BD2412, Vbell, Rjwilmsi, Maleldil, Koavf, Lockley, MRacer, Olessi, Yamamoto Ichiro, Hanshans23, FlaBot, Ground Zero, Wangoed,
GnniX, Pinkville, Chobot, Bgwhite, YurikBot, Wavelength, Feldmarshmellon, RussBot, Hede2000, Lenthe, MrCheshire, Lord Jim, Ori
Livneh, Mersenne, Jansch~enwiki, BlackAndy, M3taphysical, Darthkt, Maunus, Tomisti, Nikkimaria, Brz7, Barbatus, Jrethorst, DVD R
W, C mon, Attilios, Veinor, SmackBot, Lestrade, HeartofaDog, Lexo, Wittylama, Hmains, Dahn, Not Sure, Mrhudson, Colonies Chris,
Dethme0w,, OrphanBot, Andrewseal, Apostolos Margaritis, Mitrius, Yokyle, Amosjo, Savidan, Gregor Samsa, MichaelBillington,
RolandR, Evenel, SpiderJon, Hegelholiday, Catch, Bcasterline, Ser Amantio di Nicolao, Stevenkrauss, Teneri, Potosino, John, Carnby,
Lapaz, Roman Spinner, Aroundthewayboy, Robosh, Noah Salzman, Ryulong, Christian Roess, Hu12, Iridescent, Doceddi, Cyrusc, Irwangatot, Xanderer, Gregbard, Icarus of old, Cydebot, Starcrab, Aristophanes68, Nescio*, Universitytruth, Hdtnkrwll, Kugland, Eliyyahu,
271828182, Strausszek, CharlotteWebb, Nick Number, Emeraldcityserendipity, NSH001, Sluzzelin, Hjijch, Dsp13, Avaya1, Ericoides,
Gavia immer, .anacondabot, Freshacconci, Lfernandez, Steven Walling, KConWiki, Malten, SlamDiego, Spellmaster, Somearemoreequal,
Edward321, Purslane, Warchef, Mtevfrog, Bus stop, CommonsDelinker, Pkuras, Sumek, Stavros1, KD Tries Again, Cometstyles, DASonnenfeld, Scewing, VolkovBot, Pleasantville, Duckrabbit, Cap10xb1s, Anagrama7, HalIncandenza, Room429, Phonytician, Zweidinge,
Ethicoaestheticist, Sevela.p, Ramonynn, JumpMan847, AlleborgoBot, Enkyo2, SieBot, JaviPrieto, Pmms2005~enwiki, WRK, Monegasque, Ken123BOT, Bergadan, Kai-Hendrik, Soklapptdasnie, The Thing That Should Not Be, Fadesga, All Hallows Wraith, Takinen,
DionysosProteus, Morgan gibson87, RashersTierney, TheOldJacobite, Niceguyedc, Auntof6, Awagemm, PixelBot, Cuckowski, Sun Creator, Sq178pv, Redthoreau, 2bsirius, Duckduckg00s, Men000mena, Veronique50, Indopug, DumZiBoT, Semitransgenic, RogDel, Olegkagan, Artethical, Good Olfactory, Radh, Addbot, Feminartist, Jncraton, Phzamora, YoMenashe, AndersBot, Woland1234, Lightbot, 55,
Sindinero, TwinkleJames, Luckas-bot, Yobot, Andreasmperu, AnomieBOT, Mauro Lanari, AdjustShift, Pinoculus, Ulric1313, Daubmir, Jlrosen, GrouchoBot, Omnipaedista, Popocho~enwiki, NickJacobsLibris, Prezbo, FrescoBot, Briefcrossing, Sekwanele 2, Gottesmm,
Gourami Watcher, Diletta corradini, VetLH, MondalorBot, Ntrembley, Primaler, Lapsi35, Genny90two, Oracleofottawa, RjwilmsiBot, Igel
B TyMaHe, EmausBot, And we drown, WikitanvirBot, Pierre Robert, Playmobilonhishorse, TheSoundAndTheFury, Dcirovic, ZroBot,
Hollandwilde, Chrisperez20101994, Norharrington, Kaline.3, Kommentor, Dagko, Vanished 1850, RayneVanDunem, Emmacwolin, Ultima.ratio, ClueBot NG, Lazer Stein, Charlesmeryon, BarrelProof, Ofmakingmanybooks, Gast2011, Helpful Pixie Bot, Accedie, Cyphersnap, PhnomPencil, Graham11, Jhbillings, Rmelgarejo, Slowlikemolasses, Ggiewz, Piratenkni, Anthrophilos, Mfhiller, EstherEarth, Ngoquangduong, OpaBob, GentleCollapse16, Jackninja5, Gkornbluh, Lugia2453, VIAFbot, Begalangoram, Francium18, Ketxus, Silviocappelli80, Nblount, DavidLeighEllis, Jbeck8924, Hosogami, Eb74734, Arguseyed2200, RudiLefkowitz, Claudie foutika, T.A.F.K.A.A.U,
KasparBot, Knife-in-the-drawer, Carlmich83, Aliensyntax, Volkstod, NStreiter and Anonymous: 274



File:AdornoHorkheimerHabermasbyJeremyJShapiro2.png Source:
AdornoHorkheimerHabermasbyJeremyJShapiro2.png License: CC BY-SA 3.0 Contributors: Photograph taken in April 1964 by Jeremy
J. Shapiro Original artist: Jeremy J. Shapiro. Original uploader was Jjshapiro at en.wikipedia
File:Benjamin{}s_apartment_in_Paris_(fot._Mateusz_Palka).jpg Source:
Benjamin%27s_apartment_in_Paris_%28fot._Mateusz_Palka%29.jpg License: CC BY-SA 3.0 Contributors: Own work Original artist:
Berlin-Wilmersdorf.jpg License: CC-BY-SA-3.0 Contributors: Own work Original artist: Wikinaut


File:Commons-logo.svg Source: License: CC-BY-SA-3.0 Contributors: ? Original artist: ?

File:Edit-clear.svg Source: License: Public domain Contributors: The
Tango! Desktop Project. Original artist:
The people from the Tango! project. And according to the meta-data in the le, specically: Andreas Nilsson, and Jakub Steiner (although
File:Grab_Walter_Benjamin.jpg Source: License:
CC-BY-SA-3.0 Contributors: ? Original artist: ?
File:Klee,_Angelus_novus.png Source: License:
Public domain Contributors: Unknown Original artist: Paul Klee
File:Wikiquote-logo.svg Source: License: Public domain
Contributors: ? Original artist: ?


Content license

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0