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The Arcades Project
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
I bought this not really being sure of what to expect. I had read some Benjamin previously but hadn't really got along with it and was a little worried that this would only be compunded by his "magnum opus". I need not have worried! Not least because Benjamin's presence here is not as a writer but as an assembler - arranging fragments and quotes into meaningful sections and building from these a cohesive whole.

"The whole" tends towards the recreation of the experience of the Flauneur in a Paris where there city envirnment was still conducive to their style of life - loitering, noticing and experiencing. The manifold perspectives and descriptions which inform this life make you wish for such an interesting time of things. Or endeavour to create one out of your relatively unpromising situation.

There is an excellent account from one of Benjamin's co-travellers on his last voyage regarding his over-protectiveness of his manuscript and his comical air. The volume as a whole has made me reassess my opinion of the writer - no longer to be thought of an inscrutible literary critic amongst his Frankfurt fellows, he is herein conveyed as someone passionate about life and possibility.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 17 May 2014
Makes a great text available in English. The book is produced well. To be read in conjunction with Benjamin's contemporary Bloch, The Principle of Hope. Two books about everything.
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on 1 August 2015
This is a weighty tome which I found impossible to plough through at my usual brisk pace, so I put it aside after my initial attempts. However I keep returning to it and fitfully progressing. I have little idea what I am getting from it and yet I still come back months after starting. It sits on my bedside table as other books come and go and it still sits in my mind. Odd.
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on 3 December 2014
a joy to read
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27 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on 17 March 2002
Walter Benjamin is said to have been a shy and awkward man, yet there was something about him that made people want to take his picture. One of the nicest things about Momme Brodersen's lavishly illustrated biography is that, more than half a century after Benjamin's death, American readers can finally get a good look at his face. His mop of floating hair; his glasses-framed, heavy-lidded, soulful eyes, looking down or aimed into the middle distance (looking not into but past the camera); the hand that forms a V under his chin and gives his face a point; the dangling cigarette that seems to be there not so much to be smoked as to be crushed out -- it all makes us feel that we are in the presence of the most serious man who ever lived.
Some of the most radiant visions of Benjamin emerged late in his life, in his beloved Paris at the end of the thirties, the age of Renoir's Grand Illusion, after the Popular Front broke down, before (but not long before) the Nazis came. In 1937 Gisèle Freund photographed Benjamin at work in the Bibliothèque Nationale. She is one of European culture's grandes dames today, but then she was a fellow German-Jewish refugee, only twenty years younger than Benjamin and living even more precariously. In one shot Benjamin searches through a bookshelf, in another he is writing at a table. As usual, his gaze occludes the camera, though clearly he knows it is there. These library shots are visions of a man wholly absorbed in his work and at one with himself. His aura of total concentration can make the rest of us feel like bumbling fools. Or it can remind us why God gave us these big brains and taught us to read and write.
What was he working on that day? Probably his immense Arcades manuscript, the exploration of nineteenth-century Paris that enveloped his life all through the thirties. (When he crossed the Pyrenees on foot in 1940 to escape from France, he carried it with him and wouldn't let go. Lisa Fittko, his guide, later said she felt the manuscript was worth more to him than his life.) But it might have been one of his great late essays in that distinctively modern genre, Theology Without God. Here is a bit from "Theses on the Philosophy of History".
This is why this book is such amazing pierce of literature. If you never read this book, then you have never completed your fulfilment. For the amount you pay for this book, you easierly recive your money back. Its a small amount to pay for such an fabulous piece of work.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 April 2015
This is a very fat book. It is interesting to read this compilation of writings from the nineteenth century but there is a lot of tedious stuff that I skipped through.
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5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 12 January 2010
The book is over 1,000 pages long, but 50 pages in I'm already finding it fascinating.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 November 2014
Excellent product and my 3 dogs love them
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 13 December 2014
Promptly delivered. Great film. Good price.
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