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Customer reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars

on 30 December 2016
One of the difficulties of buying books - or anything else - via the internet is that you don't see what you get until you get it. This "book" is a case in point. But before I try to describe it, I must specify just which edition I am referring to, since Amazon is notorious for mixing up its reviews: the "book" here is the one with the glowing sunset on the cover, published by an outfit calling itself CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. CreateMoney might have been a better name for them. The "book" actually looks and feels like a photocopied text, bound IN PLASTIC! A plastic sunset, alas! It contains not a single word of publishing information, neither CreateSpace nor CreateMoney - an anonymity which is perfectly understandable, given the zero quality of the product. But most flagrant of all, it contains less than half the text of Illuminations - about 100 pages. So you don't even get to Benjamin's great essay on The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. (Or should that be, in the Age of Photocopied Reproduction?). Looks like CreateSpace ran out of money, or interest, before they got to that point. Anyway this "book" has gone straight into the garbage, where it belongs. Just so you know...
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on 8 March 2017
Horrible amazing, on published book. Feel is not nice, type tiny and it seems like a self published, flimsy book. If Amazon is going to start publishing, their books need to feel like proper book! I made the mistake of buying another amazon publication and the format was the same. Also it does not contain many of the essays that normally come in Benjamin's Illuminations. Very disappointed.

Don't t get this.
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on 1 June 2017
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on 22 April 2017
not a book! photocopied random pages put together
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on 4 March 1998
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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on 2 January 2001
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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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 11 December 2016
Both the reviewers giving this book 5 stars and one giving it 4 fewer are right, Benjamin is an astonishing, sui generis thinker who writes a dense, oracular prose that occasionally - the catastrophically beautiful passage on Klee's 'Angelus', the likening of Proust's remembering to forgetting - reveals piercing insights of which only he is capable. An associate of the Frankfurt School yet a rather diffident Marxisant fellow-traveller, his suicide robbed us of a unique intelligence. Whether musing on the Cabbalistic gestures in Kafka, teasing out the textures in Proust or revealing the lapidary 'Theses on History' he is often hard work, he likes to proceed by powerful assertion to leave the reader wondering what she has just read (and how much understood). This is his book all educated people need to know and while his style is easy to parody and one wonders how much more he should have accomplished, this is testament to his intelligence, his uniqueness and indicates all too clearly what we lost as his attempt to escape an increasingly dangerous Europe failed in an ironically Kafkaesque deadly farce..
Coleridge said that watching Garrick act was like reading Shakespeare by lightning; reading Benjamin is the writerly equivalent for the atomic age to come. Superb and infuriating.
Exercise: Compare Pater's famous "She is older than the rocks among which she sits" on The Mona Lisa with Benjamin's passage on the Angel of History, who looks fixedly backwards as "a storm is blowing from paradise" wreckage piling at her feet, "this storm is what we call progress." Yeats had Pater in his Oxford Guide to Poetry and he was no fool, but Benjamin is an order of magnitude better in style and import, he is thinking in poetry; astonishing, priceless. It is my favourite passage in all literary criticism, pregnant with meaning and intelligence.
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on 19 April 2010
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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on 5 January 2017
This is not Illuminations - it is the introduction and three of the chapters. It looks like it has been photocopied and includes none of the publication details.
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on 1 March 2017
First of all, to avoid any confusion, I am not reviewing Benjamin's 'Illuminations' as a text, I am reviewing the edition with the sunset on the cover which is available here.

This is a nasty, bootleg edition with no publishing info and an incomplete text. It looks like something you would buy from a street vendor, or be given by a member of a religious cult. There isn't even any print on the spine, and the set of the text inside is wonky.

The only positive thing I can say about my purchase is that Amazon are giving me a refund.
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