The tragic suicide of Benjamin in 1941 as he was fleeing Fascism on the Spanish border was a great loss to cultural criticism since at his best he is a profound, preternaturally acute analyst, as anyone who has read his superb accounts of Kafka and Proust in 'Illuminations' knows. Yes Clive James gives him a pasting in 'Cultural Amnesia', and it is true that the mass-production of art may not in fact rob it of its aura; the central argument is misguided. However, Benjamin is one of that rare breed who can be Wrong and worthwhile; he is always stimulating even when his hermetic prose is almost as much poetry as prose, albeit not a Paterian poesy. This set of meditations on mass-production applied to the study of aesthetics is in the usual obscure, somewhat tortured style you may know. At times he will deliver stunning perceptions of such insight and beauty, that you will wish to read his every word (Except 'The Arcades Project.'). One of the century's great thinkers, if a piecemeal one in his own sui generis Marxist fashion, quite at odds with Soviet style philistinism. He was friends with Brecht, which was not easy and suggests a rare gift for friendship [even if he did say that his theory of Epic Theatre was not applicable to his plays and should be ignored. I'd like to have known what Bertolt thought of THAT].