You could spend years trying to read Walter Benjamin's The Arcades Project
--after all, he spent much of the last 13 years of his life doing the research. When he committed suicide in 1940, he destroyed his copy of the manuscript, and so for decades the work was believed lost. But another copy turned up, and Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin have translated it into English. It is a complex, fragmentary work--more a series of notes for a book than a book itself--which probes the culture of the Paris arcades (a cross between covered streets and shopping malls) of the mid-19th century and the flaneur ("the man who walks long and aimlessly through the streets" in an "anamnestic intoxication [that]...feeds on the sensory data taking shape before his eyes but often possesses itself of abstract knowledge--indeed, of dead facts--as something experienced and lived through"). The Arcades Project
is, frankly, so dense a work that it may be tricky to find enough time to do more than glimpse fleetingly at its sections--over 100 pages of notes on Baudelaire alone!--though one is sure to look forward to the opportunity to peruse it at leisure. --Christine Buttery
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"All human thought is there, now stripped of much of its motivating ideology, to leave the shortest paragraphs reading like poetry..." -- The Guardian, 13 April 2002
...essentially a series of jottings, the reminiscences of an educated flaneur as he glides silkily through the shopping arcades of late-19th-century Paris. -- Sunday Times 22 June 2003
About the Author
Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) was the author of many works of literary and cultural analysis. Howard Eiland teaches literature at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Kevin McLaughlin is Assistant Professor of English at Brown University and the author of Writing in Parts: Imitation and Exchange in Nineteenth-Century Literature.