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Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, 3: 1935–1938
by Walter Benjamin
edited by Marcus Paul Bullock, Michael William Jennings and Gary Smith
edited and translated by Howard Eiland
translated by Edmund Jephcott
Harvard University Press, 1996
Cloth: 978-0-674-00896-0
Library of Congress Classification PT2603.E455A26 1996
Dewey Decimal Classification 838.91209

Radical critic of a European civilization plunging into darkness, yet commemorator of the humane traditions of the old bourgeoisie--such was Walter Benjamin in the later 1930s. This volume, the third in a four-volume set, offers twenty-seven brilliant pieces, nineteen of which have never before been translated.

The centerpiece, A Berlin Childhood around 1900, marks the first appearance in English of one of the greatest German works of the twentieth century: a profound and beautiful account of the vanished world of Benjamin's privileged boyhood, recollected in exile. No less remarkable are the previously untranslated second version of Benjamin's most famous essay, "The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility," with its striking insights into the relations between technology and aesthetics, and German Men and Women, a book in which Benjamin collects twenty-six letters by distinguished Germans from 1783 to 1883 in an effort to preserve what he called the true humanity of German tradition from the debasement of fascism.

Volume 3 also offers extensively annotated translations of essays that are key to Benjamin's rewriting of the story of modernism and modernity--such as "The Storyteller" and "Paris, the Capital of the Nineteenth Century"--as well as a fascinating diary from 1938 and penetrating studies of Bertolt Brecht, Franz Kafka, and Eduard Fuchs. A narrative chronology details Benjamin's life during these four harrowing years of his exile in France and Denmark. This is an essential collection for anyone interested in his work.

Table of Contents:

Paris Old and New, 1935
Brecht's Threepenny Novel
Johann Jakob Bachofen
Conversation above the Corso: Recollections of Carnival-Time in Nice
Paris, the Capital of the Nineteenth Century
Exchange with Theodor W. Adorno on the Essay "Paris, the Capital of the Nineteenth Century"
Problems in the Sociology of Language: An Overview
The Formula in Which the Dialectical Structure of Film Finds Expression
Rastelli's Story

Art In a Technological Age, 1936
The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility: Second Version
A Different Utopian Will
The Significance of Beautiful Semblance
The Signatures of the Age
Theory of Distraction
The Storyteller: Observations on the Works of Nikolai Leskov
German Men and Women: A Sequence of Letters
Letter from Paris (2): Painting and Photography
Translation'For and Against
The Knowledge That the First Material on Which the Mimetic Faculty
Tested Itself

Dialectics and History, 1937
Addendum to the Brecht Commentary: The Threepenny Opera
Eduard Fuchs, Collector and Historian

Fruits of Exile, 1938 (Part 1)
Theological-Political Fragment
A German Institute for Independent Research
Review of Brod's Franz Kafka
Letter to Gershom Scholem on Franz Kafka
The Land Where the Proletariat May Not Be Mentioned: The Premiere
of Eight One-Act Plays by Brecht
Diary Entries, 1938
Berlin Childhood around 1900

A Note on the Texts
Chronology, 1935'1938

The Galerie Vivienne, Paris, 1907
Walter Benjamin at the Biblioth'que Nationale, 1937
Honoré Daumier, La Crinoline en temps de neige
The Kaiser Wilhelm Bridge, Berlin, early twentieth century
The Victory Column on K'nigsplatz, Berlin, early twentieth century
The goldfish pond in the Tiergarten, Berlin, early twentieth century
Berlin's Tiergarten in winter, early twentieth century
Market hall on Magdeburger Platz, 1899
Interior of a typical middle-class German home, late nineteenth century
Courtyard on Fischerstrasse in Old Berlin, early twentieth century
Walter Benjamin and his brother Georg, ca. 1902

Reviews of this book:
This latest volume of Harvard's majestic annotated edition of the essays and fragments includes reflections on Brecht, Kafka and the collector Eduard Fuchs, an early version of the famous analysis of art in the age of mechanical reproduction (here more accurately translated as "technological reproducibility") and the equally exhilarating inquiry into the nature of narrative, "The Storyteller." You feel smarter just holding this book in your hand.
--Michael Dirda, Washington Post

Reviews of this book:
Over the past few years, Harvard's systematic presentation of the work of German cultural critic Benjamin has proved a revelation...This third of four planned volumes...offers two major texts that are new to well as a fascinating re-translation of one of the cornerstones of Benjamin's reputation, here rendered as the essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility"...This is another splendid volume that will leave aficionados on campus and off awaiting the final installment.
--Publishers Weekly

Reviews of this book:
For those who know only the small selection of essays and longer texts previously translated into English, this book may be a revelation. Volume 2 of the Selected Writings, spanning the period form Benjamin's 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

Reviews of this book:
While the Harvard Series does include Benjamin's epochal contributions to Marxist theory and literary criticism, it also does English-language readers a great service by emphasizing his more accessible writings: fanciful personal essays, journalistic articles, and book reviews. These pieces are, at times, giddily delightful; at other moments, they offer lightning-quick, piercing insights.
--Publishers Weekly
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