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The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (Penguin Great Ideas) [Paperback]

Walter Benjamin , J.A. Underwood
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

7 Aug 2008 Penguin Great Ideas

One of the most important works of cultural theory ever written, Walter Benjamin's groundbreaking essay explores how the age of mass media means audiences can listen to or see a work of art repeatedly – and what the troubling social and political implications of this are.

Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves – and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives – and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization and helped make us who we are.

Frequently Bought Together

The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (Penguin Great Ideas) + Society of the Spectacle + The System of Objects (Radical Thinkers)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (7 Aug 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141036192
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141036199
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 11.4 x 18 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 12,188 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

About the Author

Walter Bendix Schönflies Benjamin (1892 – 1940) was a German-Jewish Marxist literary critic, essayist, translator, and philosopher. He was at times associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory and was also greatly inspired by the Marxism of Bertolt Brecht and Jewish mysticism as presented by Gershom Scholem.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous cover, interesting read 14 May 2010
I bought this book because my Aesthetics professor mentioned it in class. The first thing I noticed is that the cover is absolutely brilliant. As for the book itself, it consists of an essay about how the reproducibility of art changes the way we perceive it and how it relates to the mass media society. This is a classic essay but in my opinion it's still a great read today.

The book also includes two more essays, one on Kafka and another on Proust, which I found very interesting and insightful, albeit unexpected considering the book's title. I did find a few connections between these essays and the one on the mechanical reproduction of art, but not many. It's possible that I'm missing something, and this is definitely a book that I will re-read some time in the future.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great 24 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A really good book for anyone interested in contemporary art or media theory. Looking at how the culture of mass media allows an audience to view or hear an artisctic piece repeatedlly and examines the attendant effect that the political and social implications of that viewing can have on the wider society.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some nuggets within... 22 Dec 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A short work in which the most thought-provoking part was on the film business and its need to make 'stars' of its actors because the medium of film sucks so much life from a person compared with seeing them on stage, live. Interesting thoughts on original and reproduced art. Brings to mind J D Roberts' aphorism:

'The man who appreciates the original will not buy a reproduction; neither will the man who can't.'
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4.0 out of 5 stars An influential classic, but not easy reading. 15 July 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Benjamin wrote his essay in the mid-thirties as a philosophical reflection. It's hard going at times, but he's basically making the point that art had moved from something that the elite used for their own ends, often self-aggrandisement, to a much more egalitarian concept. You could well say it had a strong Marxist influence.

John Berger's "Ways of Seeing" was very influenced by Benjamin's essay; you might well find Berger an easier guide to the change in art.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 18 May 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Working on my PhD proposal and this book covers many aspect that I was looking for.

Book was received soon after ordering and in great condition as described.
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