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Illuminations Paperback – 30 May 2002


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Illuminations + The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (Penguin Great Ideas) + Society of the Spectacle
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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Inc (30 May 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805202412
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805202410
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 424,989 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"From the evidence of this book I would suggest that Benjamin was one of the great European writers of this century." -- Philip Toynbee Observer "He explained the modern with an authority that fifty years of unpredictable change have not vitiated." -- Frank Kermode New York Review of Books "Like Baudelaire, Benjamin brings the very new into shocking conjunction with the very old...He is in search of a surrealist history and politics, one which clings tenaciously to the fragment, the miniature, the stray citation, but which impacts these fragments one upon the other to politically explosive effect, like the Messiah who will transfigure the world completely by making minor adjustments to it" -- Terry Eagleton The Ideology of the Aesthetic

Book Description

A now legendary collection of seminal essays by one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 Mar 1998
Format: Paperback
Walter Benjamin is easily one of the great German prose writers of our century, despite being almost impossible to classify. His subject matter is frequently literary, but he always transcends his subject matter to touch upon issues in philosophy, art, history, Marxism, and Western culture, illuminating (no pun intended) all he discusses. His essays on Proust and Kafka are priceless, and his essays on "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" and the theses on the philsophy of history, are classic.
But the best reason to read Benjamin is his prose. There are images in his essays on Proust and Kafka that are as superb as anything in Proust and Kafka. That is saying a lot, but it is true. As a philosopher, I value his example which proves that one can write meaningfully on philosophical topics, and yet write well. This collection of his essays, ILLUMINATIONS, is preferable to the second collection to appear in English, REFLECTIONS, though that one is also worth the time and effort.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 2 Jan 2001
Format: Paperback
Walter Benjamin, melancholically described as a Jewish-German philosopher, who anticipated the fate of the modern society, is often regarded as an obscure writer. But this book depicts the map of his thinking very clearly, so that I can understand well the original mind of Benjamin. I was very interested in Benjamin's commentary on Kafka. He described Kafka as the figure in 'the purity and beauty of a failure.' The intimacy between Benjamin and Kafka also frequently quoted as the example saying Benjamin's disposition of mysticism. However, it is not easy to accept that Jewish mysticism influences his account of Kafka more than his own interests in allegory. Although his commentary of Kafka seems to be obscure, his attention to Kafka can be caused not so much by mystical affection but rather by Kafka¡¯s allegorical aspects. The letter to Gerhard Scholem, 'Some Reflections on Kafka', clearly shows what Benjamin originally intends to point out in Kafka¡¯s works: the work of art in which only the products of wisdom¡¯s decay remain. It would do justice to Benjamin that we think his commentary of Kafka to be derived from his interests of allegory. For in allegory, as Benjamin says, truth is just to be a rumor. In this respect, Benjamin¡¯s commentary on Kafka would give a clue by which his project could be unveiled in terms of dialectical thinking. I'd like to recommend this book for whom wants to know one of the most unique cultural and Marxist theorist in 20th century.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Iain jackson on 19 April 2010
Format: Paperback
In addition to the 'classic' Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction [a must-read essay for all culture vultures, artists and flaneurs]
this volume contains the essay called, 'the task of the translator': which not only theorises about how we make a translation, but identifies that
a translation is in fact a new work in its own right. This is all the more interesting, as this book is a translation, expertly created by Harry Zorn, with a snappy introduction from Hannah Arendt.
Benjamin's work is also crucial [with regard to the above essay], for those interested in Postcolonial theory and the likes of Homi Bhabha.
Another essay that I enjoy reading is 'unpacking my library'. A candid account of Benjamin unpacking his boxes of books and rediscovering old friends and memories through these treasured volumes.
The range of topics covered by Benjamin is vast and his Theses on Philosophy of History has yet to be fully acknowledged as a crucial twentieth century text.
I don't like the front cover - so I choose not to look it.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mary_10 on 8 Nov 2008
Format: Paperback
Only since his death have Benjamin's works, literary essays, general reflections, aphorisms and probings into cultural phenomena, achieved fame outside his native Germany, where a discerning audience had already recognised him as one of the most acute and original minds of his time.

This aptly named collection includes Benjamin's views on Kafka, Baudelaire and Proust, essays on Leskov and Brecht's Epic Theatre, and discussions on art, technology and mass society, transaltion as a literary mode, and the philosophy of history.

In her introduction Hannah Arendt presents the critic's personality and intellectual development as well as placing his life and work in the context of Hitler's Germany.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
it really doesn't get any better than this
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