Selected Writings, Volume 2: Part 2 (1931-1934)
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In the frenzied final years of the Weimar Republic, amid economic collapse and mounting political catastrophe, Walter Benjamin emerged as the most original practicing literary critic and public intellectual in the German-speaking world. Volume 2 of the Selected Writings is now available in paperback in two parts.
In Part 1, Benjamin is represented by two of his greatest literary essays, "Surrealism" and "On the Image of Proust," as well as by a long article on Goethe and a generous selection of his wide-ranging commentary for Weimar Germany's newspapers.
Part 2 contains, in addition to the important longer essays, "Franz Kafka," "Karl Kraus," and "The Author as Producer," the extended autobiographical meditation "A Berlin Chronicle," and extended discussions of the history of photography and the social situation of the French writer, previously untranslated shorter pieces on such subjects as language and memory, theological criticism and literary history, astrology and the newspaper, and on such influential figures as Paul Valery, Stefan George, Hitler, and Mickey Mouse.
emergency. It is because these letters make this so clear that they have remained so unknown. This is as true of Forster as of Seume. And German Letters · 467 although Holderlin's letters were read, they were misunderstood most in what they said to the Germans about Germany. One consolation in all this is that these letters have remained quite untouched. They were overlooked by public speakers and those who commemorate anniversaries. And if the latter occasionally managed to pervert the
memories of a collector is the moment when he rescued a book to which he might never have given a thought, much less a wishful look, because he found it lonely and abandoned 490 . 1931 in the marketplace and bought it to give it its freedom-the way the prince bought a beautiful slave girl in the Thousand and One Nights. To a book collector, you see, the true freedom of all books is somewhere on his shelves. To this day, Balzac's Peau de chagrin stands out from long rows of French volumes in
lovers who like to touch copper engravings and reliefs, the idea came to him that anything that can be touched cannot be a work of art, and anything that is a work of art should be placed out of reach. " Franz Gliick on Adolf Loos, in Adolf Loos: Das Werk des Architekten [Adolf Loos: The Architect's Works] , edited by Heinrich Kulka (Vienna, 1 93 1 ) , p. 9 . Does this mean that these obj ects i n bottles are works o f art because they have been placed out of reach ? Fragment written no later
Gesammelte Schriften, IV, 942-944. Translated by Rodney Livingstone. N otes 1. From April 1 93 1 to May 1 932, Benj amin published a series of twenty-seven letters from the period 1 78 3-1 8 8 3 in the Frankfurter Zeitung. The present talk, which may have been intended for radio broadcast, serves as a kind of introduc tion to the series, which did not bear Benj amin's name. 2. Friedrich Gundolf (pseudonym of Friedrich Gundelfinger; 1 8 8 0- 1 9 3 1 ) , a disciple of Stefan George, was a
the ball is " in his power, " but it enables the two to reach an understanding behind his back. To weary the master to the point of exhaustion through diligence and hard work, so that at long last his body and each of his limbs can act in accordance with their own rationality: this is what is called " practice. " It is successful because the will abdicates its power once and for all inside the body, abdicates in favor of the organs-the hand, for instance. This is why you can look for something