Moscow Diary (Paperback)

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Product Overview

The life of the German-Jewish literary critic and philosopher Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) is a veritable allegory of the life of letters in the twentieth century. This stunning account of his journey to the Soviet Union is a unique among Benjamin's writings for the frank, merciless way he struggles with his motives and conscience.

Specifications

Publisher Harvard Univ Pr
Mfg Part# 9780674587441
SKU 30114515
Format Paperback
ISBN10 0674587448
Release Date 4/10/2007
Physical
Dimensions (in Inches) 9H x 6.75L x 0.25T
Author Info
Walter Benjamin
The son of an art dealer, Walter Benjamin grew up in Berlin, in a wealthy, assimilated Jewish family. After school, where he was active in the student association and wrote for its magazine, he studied philosophy and literature at several German universities. Benjamin sought an academic career, but his doctoral thesis, "The Origin of German Tragic Drama" (pub. 1928), was rejected by the University of Frankfurt. Instead, he contributed to various newspapers, wrote essays, and translated Proust and other writers. In the 1920s, he visited Russia and came close to becoming a Communist. In 1933 he left Germany for Paris, a city whose culture and literature he loved. He took half of his treasured library with him, and continued to write. Following the fall of France to Germany, Benjamin went on to Spain, hoping to make it to the United States. When the police informed Benjamin and friends that they would be turned over to the Gestapo, Benjamin committed suicide. Walter Benjamin's reputation as a critic and thinker has grown since his death. His writings on a wide variety of topics--Marxist critiques of art and aesthetics, literary criticism of Baudelaire, Goethe, and others--draw from history, the Talmud, and society at large. His unique contribution to literature and the intellectual world has only become more pronounced due to the publication of multiple Benjamin biographies, his correspondence, and other commentary.
Praise
"The German literary critic and philosopher Walter Benjamin, who died in 1940, was one of Europe's grandest thinkers. This diary covers only two months in the winter of 1926-1927, but it feels like a lifetime. His meticulous, almost macabre attention to detail gives his perceptions a kind of scientific brilliance, whether he is describing the streets of the city, a curious shop sign, the sanatorium where his friend Asja Lacis is a patient, the wash table in his hotel room, or the ragged beds that stand at every street corner in `the open air sick bay called Moscow'. The book is a supreme example of the kind of mental equipment any traveller would like to take with him, to any place."
In the `20s and `30s, [Benjamin] was a Jew in Berlin, a visitor to the Russian Revolution, a refugee in France, a citizen of the world in flames. More a man of letters than scholar, and more poet than either one, he wandered through Western culture as if it had been destroyed centuries earlier, and he were a revenant poking through its remains. He amassed quotations and collected books and toys, with no illusion of finding a living civilization, but seeking the artifacts of a shattered one...Love, mixed with obsession, is at the heart of "Moscow Diary", the private record of Benjamin's two-month visit to the Soviet Union in the winter of 1926.|Edited and with an afterword by Gary Smith and lucidly translated by Richard Sieburth, it is a many-faceted jewel: a portrait of the Russian revolution in its still unsettled transition to Stalinism, a vivid picture of Moscow life, Benjamin's intellectual journal, and above all, the tragicomic story of his pursuit of the Estonian actress, Lacis Asja."
From the Publisher
Editors Note The life of the German-Jewish literary critic and philosopher Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) is a veritable allegory of the life of letters in the twentieth century. This stunning account of his journey to the Soviet Union is a unique among Benjamin's writings for the frank, merciless way he struggles with his motives and conscience.
Product Attributes
Book Format Paperback
Number of Pages 0156
Publisher Harvard University Press
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$32.23 + free shipping
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