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Walter Benjamin: A Critical Life [Englisch] [Gebundene Ausgabe]

Howard Eiland , Michael W. Jennings

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23. April 2014
Walter Benjamin is one of the twentieth century's most important intellectuals, and also one of its most elusive. His writings--mosaics incorporating philosophy, literary criticism, Marxist analysis, and a syncretistic theology--defy simple categorization. And his mobile, often improvised existence has proven irresistible to mythologizers. His writing career moved from the brilliant esotericism of his early writings through his emergence as a central voice in Weimar culture and on to the exile years, with its pioneering studies of modern media and the rise of urban commodity capitalism in Paris. That career was played out amid some of the most catastrophic decades of modern European history: the horror of the First World War, the turbulence of the Weimar Republic, and the lengthening shadow of fascism. Now, a major new biography from two of the world's foremost Benjamin scholars reaches beyond the mosaic and the mythical to present this intriguing figure in full. Howard Eiland and Michael Jennings make available for the first time a rich store of information which augments and corrects the record of an extraordinary life. They offer a comprehensive portrait of Benjamin and his times as well as extensive commentaries on his major works, including "The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility," the essays on Baudelaire, and the great study of the German "Trauerspiel." Sure to become the standard reference biography of this seminal thinker, " Walter Benjamin: A Critical Life" will prove a source of inexhaustible interest for Benjamin scholars and novices alike.

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Despite its numerous predecessors, this biography is the first of its kind to succeed in uniting most of the previously published biographical material in one book, including translations of documents which were until now only available in German. With the still-growing interest in Benjamin s thought, one can expect this book to become the standard English-language biography on Benjamin. In "A Critical Life", the contours of Benjamin s day-to-day life become graspable for the first time. It is fascinating to read about his whereabouts and travels, the people and places that formed the stages for his life and thought This biography is also an intellectual biography, which puts the reader herself in a position to navigate the labyrinth-like edifice of Benjamin s thought. For this alone, this biography proves to be a landmark achievement in the history of Benjamin scholarship.--Sami Khatib"New Inquiry" (04/17/2014)"

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Buchdeckel | Copyright | Inhaltsverzeichnis | Auszug | Stichwortverzeichnis
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5.0 von 5 Sternen A critical accompaniment to the works of Walter Benjamin 14. Januar 2014
Von Mlagace - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
This is a compelling, well-written, and accessible biography of an uncompromising and enigmatic writer and public intellectual.

I have been seeking such a literary biography to help me get a better handle on the influences and background to Benjamin's works such as Critique of Violence and the Arcades Project. The book provides this and much more, drawing judiciously on a multitude of sources, including his decades-long, sometimes prickly correspondence with dear friends. And what reader wouldn't be fascinated by his life? Without giving anything away, I can only say this biography offers surprising details and welcome nuances to the basic outline that many readers may already know. I think I will return to this book again and again in the coming years.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Weighty and Worth the Read 22. April 2014
Von Albert M. Stark - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
I picked up this 800 plus page book from the table in the book store attracted by the title, A Critical Life. As I read page after page I learned more and more about not only modernity through the eyes of Walter Benjamin, pronounced Ben ya Mean, but also history of the early and mid-twentieth century viewed through the eyes of intellectuals who had the courage to comment on the woes of society.

This book written by professors from Princeton and Harvard reads like a novel. The writing is clear and concise, a challenging task given the complexity of the subject of this autobiography, the son of a well-to-do family who could be described as a geek but who was a charismatic and courageous man.

I am richer for picking up the book from the bookstore table.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen benjamin: a rabbi among marxists,and a marxist among rabbis 19. März 2014
Von warrren leming - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
walter benjamin remains one of the 20th centurys major literary critical figures... certainly one with both credential beyond the academy, and a life ended tragically enough to insure an enduring post mortem fame. the book is a fine one, and well detailed. the benjamin who emerges is initially the bookish son of a successful businessman. the father and the son soon seperate over benjamin's inability to get a job- and benjamin, as the nazi's come to power, begins a life of nomadic penury,marked by his amazing literary output, and which will end with his suicide at port bau in spain, where he was led by the extraordinary lisa fittko, following a harrowing climb into spain from france.
warren leming
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4.0 von 5 Sternen A Missing Element 2. Juli 2014
Von Michael H. Shenkman - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
I am filing a minority report. Make no mistake, this is a competent biography of a difficult person who produced work that never yields to clarity, and so this book provides a service. And I have to say, I was constantly mindful of being in the hands of the person who translated the Arcades Project into English. I felt my appreciation continually, and always was aware that the authors were people who were dedicated to Benjamin, maybe in a way that neither Adorno, Horkheimer or Scholem were. Maybe the dedication of these authors was only equaled by Benjamin's wife (forever -- despite the divorce) Dora.
My reservation stems from two sources. First, I felt a dissociation between the life events of the man and the work. Maybe this is not only unavoidable with a person such as Benjamin, and maybe it is a matter of producing a biography that is approachable by a wider audience than admiring specialists. But still, I couldn't help but feel that given the sheer power of Benjamin's work and the sheer will (to) power to write and, most of all to THINK, despite the excruciating adversities Benjamin faced there wasn't some connecting thread or theme that could have been elucidated. As a result, I felt that the accounts of the events in Benjamin's life became monotonously repetitious (even the flight from the Nazi's seemed to be just an intensification of the usual travails of poverty and homelessness), and the expositions on his works were stridently schematic.
Which brings me to the second concern: it seems to me that the theological dimension of Benjamin's life and work was strangely absent. The "theological" seems to me to be the driving locus of his thought, and the only "reserve" in which Benjamin carved out a byway (a tunnel?) to a future. That this "future" of his never escaped the theological lent to his work that "messianic" cast that anyone who reads Benjamin has too grapple with. That "theological" stream or strain of thought forms the basis for the friendship and struggles between him and Scholem (for whom the religious and Messianic were preset and solved). The precious little attention paid to Benjamin's affinities to theological themes -- Jewish, Messianic, mystical, eschatological, redemptive and textual -- seems strange.
I see Benjamin being drawn to the theological as his only connection to the sense of there being a "future" at all. This "prophetic" detachment from material exigency seems to offer a powerful theme on which to lay out his biographical course. The unreality of his love triangles and his inability to extricate himself from culturally collapsing interwar Europe seems bound up with this deep commitment to honor the "mourning" that lends depth, feeling and Kierkegaardian faith to life, but that also renders materialist futurity as a blurred obscurity, if not conceptually entangled impossibility. He could not envision that any border would open up for him, no less the day after he committed suicide.
Maybe the authors leave this missing stream or theme to the reader's devices to construct. But I can't help but feel that the book did not quite reach my own mourning for the work and loss of Benjamin.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen wow -- the Benjamin biography we hoped for 16. März 2014
Von LD - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
Howard Eiland and Michael Jennings have produced a classic. A Critical Life is an essential companion to Benjamin's works and a literary work in its own right.
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