The contemporary moment has been described in terms of both a “narrative” and a “performative turn,” but the overlap between these two has largely escaped attention. This curious gap is explained by the ways in which scholars across the humanities have defined narrative and performance as opposite forces, emphasizing their respective affiliations with time vs. space and identity constitution vs. its undoing. Although the opposition has been acknowledged as false by many in this simple form, its shifting instantiations continue to shape the ways we make sense of the arts as well as society. Instead, An Aesthetics of Narrative Performance: Transnational Theater, Literature, and Film in Contemporary Germany by Claudia Breger maps the complexities of imaginative worldmaking in contemporary culture through an aesthetics of narrative performance: an ensemble of techniques exploring the interplay of rupture and recontextualization in the process of configuration. Interlacing diverging definitions of both narrative and performance, the study outlines two clusters of such techniques—scenic narration and narrative “presencing” in performance vs. forms of narrative theatricalization—and analyzes the cultural work they do in individual works in three different media: literature, film, and theater. These readings focus on the rich configurations of contemporary worldmaking “at location Germany.” In the discussed representations of German unification, contemporary cultures of migration, and the transnational War on Terror, the aesthetics of narrative performance finds its identity as a multifaceted imaginative response to the post/modern crisis of narrative authority.
After Testimony: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Holocaust Narrative for the Future collects sixteen essays written with the awareness that we are on the verge of a historical shift in our relation to the Third Reich’s programmatic genocide. Soon there will be no living survivors of the Holocaust, and therefore people not directly connected to the event must assume the full responsibility for representing it. The contributors believe that this shift has broad consequences for narratives of the Holocaust. By virtue of being “after” the accounts of survivors, storytellers must find their own ways of coming to terms with the historical reality that those testimonies have tried to communicate. The ethical and aesthetic dimensions of these stories will be especially crucial to their effectiveness. Guided by these principles and employing the tools of contemporary narrative theory, the contributors analyze a wide range of Holocaust narratives—fictional and nonfictional, literary and filmic—for the dual purpose of offering fresh insights and identifying issues and strategies likely to be significant in the future. In addition to the editors, the contributors are Daphna Erdinast-Vulcan, Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi, Anniken Greve, Jeremy Hawthorn, Marianne Hirsch, Irene Kacandes, Phillipe Mesnard, J. Hillis Miller, Michael Rothberg, Beatrice Sandberg, Anette H. Storeide, Anne Thelle, and Janet Walker.
Art historians have long looked to letters to secure biographical details; clarify relationships between artists and patrons; and present artists as modern, self-aware individuals. This book takes a novel approach: focusing on Albrecht Dürer, Shira Brisman is the first to argue that the experience of writing, sending, and receiving letters shaped how he treated the work of art as an agent for communication.
In the early modern period, before the establishment of a reliable postal system, letters faced risks of interception and delay. During the Reformation, the printing press threatened to expose intimate exchanges and blur the line between public and private life. Exploring the complex travel patterns of sixteenth-century missives, Brisman explains how these issues of sending and receiving informed Dürer’s artistic practices. His success, she contends, was due in large part to his development of pictorial strategies—an epistolary mode of address—marked by a direct, intimate appeal to the viewer, an appeal that also acknowledged the distance and delay that defers the message before it can reach its recipient. As images, often in the form of prints, coursed through an open market, and artists lost direct control over the sale and reception of their work, Germany’s chief printmaker navigated the new terrain by creating in his images a balance between legibility and concealment, intimacy and public address.
In turn-of-the-century Vienna, Karl Kraus created a bold new style of media criticism, penning incisive satires that elicited both admiration and outrage. Kraus’s spectacularly hostile critiques often focused on his fellow Jewish journalists, which brought him a reputation as the quintessential self-hating Jew. The Anti-Journalist overturns this view with unprecedented force and sophistication, showing how Kraus’s criticisms form the center of a radical model of German-Jewish self-fashioning, and how that model developed in concert with Kraus’s modernist journalistic style.
Paul Reitter’s study of Kraus’s writings situates them in the context of fin-de-siècle German-Jewish intellectual society. He argues that rather than stemming from anti-Semitism, Kraus’s attacks constituted an innovative critique of mainstream German-Jewish strategies for assimilation. Marshalling three of the most daring German-Jewish authors—Kafka, Scholem, and Benjamin—Reitter explains their admiration for Kraus’s project and demonstrates his influence on their own notions of cultural authenticity.
The Anti-Journalist is at once a new interpretation of a fascinating modernist oeuvre and a heady exploration of an important stage in the history of German-Jewish thinking about identity.
The Arcades Project
Walter Benjamin Harvard University Press, 1999 Library of Congress PT2603.E455P33513 1999 | Dewey Decimal 944.361081
"To great writers," Walter Benjamin once wrote, "finished works weigh lighter than those fragments on which they labor their entire lives." Conceived in Paris in 1927 and still in progress when Benjamin fled the Occupation in 1940, The Arcades Project (in German, Das Passagen-Werk) is a monumental ruin, meticulously constructed over the course of thirteen years--"the theater," as Benjamin called it, "of all my struggles and all my ideas."
Focusing on the arcades of nineteenth-century Paris-glass-roofed rows of shops that were early centers of consumerism--Benjamin presents a montage of quotations from, and reflections on, hundreds of published sources, arranging them in thirty-six categories with descriptive rubrics such as "Fashion," "Boredom," "Dream City," "Photography," "Catacombs," "Advertising," "Prostitution," "Baudelaire," and "Theory of Progress." His central preoccupation is what he calls the commodification of things--a process in which he locates the decisive shift to the modern age.
The Arcades Project is Benjamin's effort to represent and to critique the bourgeois experience of nineteenth-century history, and, in so doing, to liberate the suppressed "true history" that underlay the ideological mask. In the bustling, cluttered arcades, street and interior merge and historical time is broken up into kaleidoscopic distractions and displays of ephemera. Here, at a distance from what is normally meant by "progress," Benjamin finds the lost time(s) embedded in the spaces of things.
"Dialectics at a Standstill," by Rolf Tiedemann "The Story of Old Benjamin," by Lisa Fittko
Translators' Notes Guide to Names and Terms Index
Reviews of this book: Benjamin's crowning achievement...The Harvard University Press edition of Benjamin now in monumental progress is an admirably generous undertaking. --George Steiner, Times Literary Supplement
Reviews of this book: Arcades is an assemblage of quotations, notes and theses that wrestle with themselves to extraordinary effect. In his lifetime, Benjamin saw published only the fragmentary collection One-Way Street, and he initially conceived The Arcades Project as a continuation of that book'It is a privilege, through this collection, to gain access to the workings of such a distinctive mind. --Guy Mannes Abbott, New Statesman
Reviews of this book: Some of us don't read fiction. We live on history, biography, criticism, reporting and what used to be called belles-lettres. We will be feasting on Walter Benjamin's Arcades Project for years to come. Just published in its first full English edition, The Arcades Project should also win readers with broader tastes. By any standard, the appearance of this long-awaited work is a towering literary event. A sprawling, fragmented meditation on the ethos of 19th-century Paris, The Arcades Project was left incomplete on Benjamin's death in 1940. In recent decades, as portions of the book have appeared in English, the unfinished opus has acquired legendary status. The Arcades Project surpasses its legend. It captures the relationship between a writer and a city in a form as richly developed as those presented in the great cosmopolitan novels of Proust, Joyce, Musil and Isherwood. Those who fall under Benjamin's spell may find themselves less willing to suspend their disbelief in fiction. The city will offer sufficient fantasy to meet most needs. --Herbert Muschamp, New York Times
Reviews of this book: At last, we can glimpse Benjamin's avowed masterpiece, The Arcades Project, and pay homage to this strange, vulnerable man, for whom letters and thought and books were everything. It was thirteen years in the making, and scribbled beneath the 'painted sky of summer'--the huge ceiling mural of Paris' BibliothÃƒÂ¨que Nationale...Benjamin claimed The Arcades Project was 'the theater of all my struggles and all my ideas.' This struggle, and those ideas, aimed to chronicle the whole history of the nineteenth century, over which Paris, majestically, presided, whose arcades symbolized the city's heart laid bare...Harvard's Belknap [Press] is brave to publish such an esoteric and pricey specimen. Along with its two recent volumes of Benjamin's Selected Writings, and with a concluding collection in its way soon, we are now much better able to assess the man--foibles and all--and his legacy as a creative whole. --Andy Merrifield, The Nation
Reviews of this book: The Arcades Project was a legend before it became a book...This large volume reproduces every relevant scrap in the Benjamin archives, reprinting, verbatim, every entry in the more than 30 notebooks that Benjamin had meticulously maintained to organize his observations and pertinent passages from books pertaining to a variety of different topics and themes, from 'Fashion' and 'Boredom' to 'Barricade Fighting' and 'the Seine.' --James Miller, New York Times Book Review
Reviews of this book: [Benjamin's] style of writing has a narcotic effect that soon envelops the reader in Parisian ambiance. Picking up The Arcades Project is like visiting a ghostly city. One becomes familiar with its thematic streets and alleys, its peculiar cultural constructs, its architecture, and its literatures...The Arcades Project is indeed a sort of magic encyclopedia, freeing its subject from traditional historical and literary interpretations and re-inventing it as a living, breathing picture. It is a maze of small revelations, its pages as seductive and confused as the streets, dreams, and arcades of Paris. --Jason Cons, Boston Book Review
Reviews of this book: A painstaking act of literary reconstruction has fleshed out Walter Benjamin's lost masterpiece...We may consider here Benjamin's wonderful remark that 'knowledge comes only in lightning flashes. The text is the long roll of thunder that follows.' The Arcades Project is the reverberation of that thunder in a thousand different directions...This posthumous volume suggests that, in its incomplete and fissiparous state, his reflections are themselves an unflawed mirror for the world which he was attempting to explore. He seems to have retrieved everything, and anticipated everything. --Peter Ackroyd, The Times
Reviews of this book: [Benjamin's] magnum opus, The Arcades Project, has finally been translated into English...If the low price for such a large academic volume is anything to go by, the publishers expect this to be a major event. --Julian Roberts, The Guardian
Reviews of this book: Benjamin was a vital member of what cultural and art historian Robert Hughes has called the 'modernist laboratory' of the early part of the 20th century, and, like Virginia Woolf or Paul Cezanne or any other modernist worth her salt, his masterwork presents its own form as worthy of as much interest as its content...Fragment or not, The Arcades Project is a vast creative work that is one part realist novel, one part cultural anthropology, and one part social history and critique. --Matt Weiland, National and Financial Post
Reviews of this book: Walter's Benjamin's The Arcades Project, a doorstopper of a book by one of the leading intellectuals of the 20th century, starts with the specifics of the technologically innovative Parisian shopping arcade, then spins off into a vast and complex universe of ideas about art, architecture, politics and consumer culture. Not unlike the novels of Umberto Eco and Thomas Pynchon, The Arcades Project uses the template of the past to demystify the present. --Joe Uris, Portland Oregonian
Reviews of this book: Because his ideas never cohered into a doctrine, The Arcades remained a treatise about everything that never amounted to anything. But, like the vanished bohemia it documented in such obsessive detail, this ruin of a book has its own sublime grandeur. --Daniel Johnson, Daily Telegraph
Reviews of this book: This is a treasure: a translation of Benjamin's great unfinished--and unfinishable--work, a study of the imagination in nineteenth-century Paris, the capital of the nineteenth century, and hence an archaeology of our own strange and wondrous 'consumer society.' --ChristianityToday.com
Reviews of this book: The Arcades Project is truly a kaleidoscopic montage of a dream of the meanings of society, a dream deferred by the advance of Nazis into Paris. In 1940, when Benjamin fled, he left behind the sprawling, incomplete masterpiece he had begun in 1927. But by then, it had already become, he wrote, 'the theater of all my struggles and all my ideas.' --Forrest Gander, Providence Journal-Bulletin
Reviews of this book: Finally available in English, Walter Benjamin's study of nineteenth-century Paris is brilliant...Benjamin wrote many marvelous essays in the 1930s, but his main energy went into a giant enterprise that he called 'the Arcades project.' The forerunners of modern-day department stores, the arcades of nineteenth-century Paris were arched passageways with shops on each side. Benjamin was confident that the book would be his masterpiece. Not only would it grasp the structure of life and thought and art in Paris circa 1848, it would explain all modern art, politics, and life...Harvard University Press has given [The Arcades Project] to us in English in a sumptuous volume. --Marshall Berman, Metropolis
Reviews of this book: If The Arcades Project is still worth reading today, it is not only for the quixotic pleasures of its dead ends, but for the traces of hope it finds within 'the guilty context of the living' (as Benjamin wrote elsewhere). Through an analysis of the 'collective dream' of the 19th century, Benjamin hopes to liberate the 20th. --Diana George, The Stranger
Reviews of this book: [Readers can] enjoy the book's open-endedness and follow personal itineraries...As Harvard gradually publishes his collected works, Benjamin's strengths become evident. --Andrew Mead, Architects Journal
Reviews of this book: Because of its standing as Benjamin's final, and unfinished, work, this tome will prove a curious blessing for those wearing the right equipment...This kaleidoscopic work is arranged in 36 categories with such loosely descriptive headings as 'Prostitution,' 'Boredom,' 'Catacombs,' 'Dream City,' and 'Theory of Progress.' It makes sense why Benjamin would refer to this work as 'the theater of all of my struggles and ideas.' Everything seems to be in there, making it at once awe-inspiring and inscrutable in its present form. Had the war not kept him from its final flower, this theater might have been one of the greatest intellectual works of the century. As it stands, it is merely brilliant. --Kirkus Reviews
Reviews of this book: Now, at last, American readers too have access to [Benjamin's] final, great unfinished work in an edition that is both well translated and helpfully annotated by the editor of the German edition, Rolf Tiedemann. In 1927, Benjamin began taking notes for a book that would critique the cultural, politic, artistic and commercial life of Paris, a city Benjamin thought of as the 'capital of the nineteenth century'...This edition is comprised of the fastidious notes he made from this never-completed study...His perspective is largely Marxist, but not in any conventional or dogmatic sense. Benjamin's chief virtue is an uncanny originality of vision and insight that transcends the constraints of ideology. --Publishers Weekly
Reviews of this book: The Arcades Project, which Benjamin worked on for 13 years before his death, was an attempt to capture the reality that he believed underlay the political, economic, and technological world of the 19th and early 20th centuries. In the phenomenon of the Paris arcades, Benjamin saw a turning away from a communal society based on mutual concern to one based on material well-being and economic gain. To fortify his argument, Benjamin used quotations from a variety of published literary, philosophical, and artistic sources and added his own reflections and commentary. Because of Benjamin's untimely and tragic death, this is not a finished work, but, nonetheless, the architectonic of the whole is impressive in its breadth and as an attempt at historical comprehension. Also included is a poignant, beautifully written eyewitness account of Benjamin's last days and hours. --Leon H. Brody, Library Journal
Reviews of this book: Presenting some wonderful social history, The Arcades Project is an incomparable work that only Benjamin could have written. It permits readers who would otherwise never have the luxury of comprehension to examine the workings of one of the most remarkable thinkers of 20th-century Europe. --S. Gittleman, Choice
Reviews of this book: [This] edition does a fine job with this wild, often intractable material. Its apparatus is helpful, and properly spare'By and large, the edition is a heroic achievement. --T.J. Clark, London Review of Books
Reviews of this book: Walter Benjamin's effort to unlock the mystery of industrial culture became his central mission, which he pursued by combing the streets of the Paris he loved--or, more exactly, by combing old books about these streets. The materials he culled from these books and his commentary on them constitute The Arcades Project, his masterpiece, which he worked on for 13 years...For students of urban life and industrial culture, The Arcades Project is a gold mine of insights and apercus. --Los Angeles Times Book Review
Reviews of this book: "[The Arcades Project] suggests a new way of writing about a civilization using its rubbish as materials rather than its artworks: history from below rather than above. And [Benjamin's] call elsewhere for a history centered on the sufferings of the vanquished, rather than on the achievements of the victors, is prophetic of the way in which history writing has begun to think of itself in our lifetime..."What does The Arcades Project have to offer? The briefest of lists would include: a treasure hoard of curious information about Paris, a multitude of thought-provoking questions, the harvest of an acute and idiosyncratic mind's trawl through thousands of books, succinct observations, polished to a high aphoristic sheen, on a range of subjects...and glimpses of Benjamin toying with a new way of seeing himself: as a compiler of a 'magic encyclopedia'...[A] magnificent opus." --J. M. Coetzee, The Guardian
Reviews of this book: Whether the theme is fashion, collecting, gambling--or any other key to the period--Benjamin lays out a gripping commentary on each. The result is a city-in-miniature. But it is the method underpinning the work that is perhaps the most interesting. In the methodological convolute 'N' Benjamin refers to it as a form of 'literary montage'--Benjamin's shorthand way of saying that each convolute is composed of numerous quotations which are lifted from various sources and then spliced together on the same page. The method enables Benjamin to blast away at received notions of art and cultural history...Besides a useful introduction, this first English edition also contains a number of early drafts and the as yet untranslated second expos' from 1939. Together, these pieces give an insight into Benjamin's anarchic working method, whereby he constantly reshuffles his material. --Alex Coles, Parachute
Quite simply, the Passagen-Werk is one of the twentieth century's great efforts at historical comprehension--some would say the greatest. --T. J. Clark
Benjamin's work is the most advanced, most complex, and most comprehensive study of the dominant motifs and unresolved tendencies of the nineteenth century that continue to be of critical importance for us today. No other study has measured up to its methodological inventiveness, or so exemplarily met its demand that history writing be reinvented for every topic and on every occasion. --Werner Hamacher
Knowledge of The Arcades Project is essential for a full comprehension of Benjamin's intentions and achievement in the 1930s--especially his highly original and influential attempt to define the idea of the modern. --Michael W. Jennings
Archaeologies of Modernity explores the shift from the powerful tradition of literary forms of Bildung—the education of the individual as the self—to the visual forms of “Bildung” (from Bild) that characterize German modernism and the European avant-garde. Interrelated chapters examine the work of Franz Kafka, Jean/Hans Arp, Walter Benjamin, and Carl Einstein, and of artists such as Oskar Kokoschka or Kurt Schwitters, in the light of the surge of an autoformation (Bildung) of verbal and visual images at the core of expressionist and surrealist aesthetics and the art that followed. In this first scholarly focus on modernist avant-garde Bildung in its entwinement of conceptual modernity with forms of the archaic, Rumold resituates the significance of the poet and art theorist Einstein and his work on the language of primitivism and the visual imagination. Archaeologies of Modernity is a major reconsideration of the conception of the modernist project and will be of interest to scholars across the disciplines.
Armed Ambiguity is a fascinating examination of the tropes of the woman warrior constructed by print culture—including press reports, novels, dramatic works, and lyrical texts—during the decades-long conflict in Europe around 1800.
In it, Julie Koser sheds new light on how women’s bodies became a battleground for competing social, cultural, and political agendas in one of the most pivotal periods of modern history. She traces the women warriors in this work as reflections of the social and political climate in German-speaking lands, and she reveals how literary texts and cultural artifacts that highlight women’s armed insurrection perpetuated the false dichotomy of "public" versus "private" spheres along a gendered fault line. Koser illuminates how reactionary visions of "ideal femininity" competed with subversive fantasies of new femininities in the ideological battle being waged over the restructuring of German society.
As German-language literature turned in the mid-nineteenth century to the depiction of the profane, sensual world, a corresponding anxiety emerged about the terms of that depiction—with consequences not only for realist poetics but also for the conception of the material world itself. At the Limit of the Obscene examines the roots and repercussions of this anxiety in German realist and postrealist literature. Through analyses of works by Adalbert Stifter, Gustav Freytag, Theodor Fontane, Arno Holz, Gottfried Benn, and Franz Kafka, Erica Weitzman shows how German realism’s conflicted representations of the material world lead to an idea of the obscene as an excess of sensual appearance beyond human meaning: the obverse of the anthropocentric worldview that German realism both propagates and pushes to its crisis. At the Limit of the Obscene thus brings to light the troubled and troubling ontology underlying German realism, at the same time demonstrating how its works continue to shape our ideas about representability, alterity, and the relationship of human beings to the non-human well into the present day.
As head of Suhrkamp Verlag, a premier German publishing house, Siegfried Unseld is eminently qualified to write about the relationship between authors and their publishers—and he does so here with engaging partisan enthusiasm. Long familiar with what he terms the Janus-headed nature of the publishing profession, Unseld considers the dual responsibilities of a publisher: in one direction, his responsibility for the material success of his firm; and in the other, his responsibility to the intellectual ideals and spiritual requirements of his authors.
Through close examination of four writers, Unseld shows how the author's personality can affect the publisher's dilemma. Hermann Hesse, by virtue of his loyalty and his desire for financial independence, enjoyed an exemplary relationship with his publishers. With Bertolt Brecht it was all confusion; with Rainer Maria Rilke, a one-author-one-publisher lifetime alliance; with Swiss poet Robert Walser, a mire of difficulties ("Each book printed," he once said, was "a grave for its author").