Mapping occurrences of 'Walter Benjamin' in the London Review of Books (LRB)

As an experiment in evaluating the reach of Walter Benjamin's influence in 20th and 21st century letters, I searched the LRB Archive back to 1979 for articles mentioning him. Really quite a nice education in stuff one didn't exactly know before doing the exercise, and with an appropriately Benjaminic flavor of this'n'that and a bit of what you fancy. Here's what I found:
The Unpredictable Cactus
Emily Witt: Mescaline
22 December 2019
Mescaline: A Global History of the First Psychedelic 
by Mike Jay.
"... psychiatrist friends. Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, a Polish painter, painted his visions and published a drug memoir called Narcotics: Nicotine, Alcohol, Cocaine, Peyote, Morphine and Ether (1932). Walter Benjamin, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jean-Paul Sartre and Antonin Artaud all gave it a try. In her memoirs Simone de Beauvoir described Sartre being haunted by visions of scuttling crabs for days after ..."
Short Cuts
James Meek: Deepfakery
25 November 2019
"... but expected just to watch and get it. Shared video culture has reached the point of smoothness where the clip is a unit of communication in itself, like a gag or an anecdote or a bit of graffiti. Walter Benjamin imagined an ideal book consisting of nothing but quotes. A conversation made up entirely of quotes was always more likely, but the internet has made possible for everyone a feat that ..."

An Absolutely Different Life
Michael Wood: Too Proustian
7 November 2019
Sept conférences sur Marcel Proust 
by Bernard de Fallois.
Proust avant Proust Essai sur 'Les Plaisirs et les jours'
by Bernard de Fallois.
'Le Mystérieux Correspondant'et autres nouvelles inédites 
by Marcel Proust, edited by Luc Fraisse.
"... of Baudelaire's poem 'A une passante', where a man sees a woman on the street and knows he will never see her again. They have exchanged glances, that's all—love 'at last sight', as Walter Benjamin said. A captain returns to the small town where he served in the army, talks for a while with his old orderly in the presence of a guard who is sitting outside the barracks. The captain is ..."

Angry or Evil?
Michael Wood: Brecht's Poems
21 March 2019
The Collected Poems of Bertolt Brecht 
translated by Tom Kuhn and David Constantine.
"... the downfall of translators. Where there are questions they concern not correctness or fidelity but intriguing matters of interpretation. One of the tasks of the translator, to borrow a phrase from Walter Benjamin, apart from helping us to read texts we couldn't otherwise approach, is to show what different languages allow their speakers to do with words—and also what those languages do not ..."
You have a new memory
Hal Foster: Trevor Paglen
11 October 2018
Trevor Paglen: Sites Unseen 
by John P. Jacob and Luke Skrebowski.
Trevor Paglen 
by Lauren Cornell, Julia Bryan-Wilson and Omar Kholeif.
"... of Muybridge and Marey once revealed the mechanics of motion; that they extend our vision prosthetically; that they can even open up new realms such as the 'optical unconscious' proclaimed by Walter Benjamin in the 1930s. Today, however, machines often not only do the seeing for us but also act on the patterns they detect. Hence the advent of 'operational images'that 'intervene in ..."
Smash the Screen
Hal Foster: 'Duty Free Art'
5 April 2018
Duty Free Art: Art in the Age of Planetary Civil War 
by Hito Steyerl.
"... More than a hundred years ago new technologies transformed the aesthetic field, as painting and sculpture were pressured by photography and film, and modernists like Walter Benjamin and László Moholy-Nagy redefined literacy as the ability to read both. For Benjamin, the reproducibility of these media not only shattered the auratic power of the unique work (this was mostly ..."
A Young Woman Who Was Meant to Kill Herself
Jeremy Harding: Charlotte Salomon
8 March 2018
Life? Or Theatre? 
by Charlotte Salomon.
by David Foenkinos, translated by Sam Taylor.
Charlotte Salomon and the Theatre of Memory 
by Griselda Pollock.
Charlotte Salomon: 'Life? Or Theatre?'A Selection of 450 Gouaches 
by Judith Belinfante and Evelyn Benesch.
"... from the Nazis, was suspect. The drafts of 'undesirables' in the summer of 1940 included nearly ten thousand women, hundreds with young children. Several were well known: Hannah Arendt; Dora Benjamin, Walter's sister; Marta Feuchtwanger, wife of Lion; the actress Dita Parlö, whose character falls in love with Jean Gabin's in La Grande Illusion; Lisa Fittko, a passeuse who risked her life ..."
Relentless Intimacy
T.J. Clark: Cezanne's Portraits
25 January 2018
Cézanne Portraits 
"... Gustave Geffroy's are feeble. They sum up a picture in which, for once, a figure is disabled—swallowed and immaterialised—by its surroundings.) Once upon a time, in the good old days of Walter Benjamin, I thought of writing a book called Paul Cézanne, A Portrait Painter in the Era of High Positivism. Its question would have been: How do human beings offer themselves to 'portrayal' in ..."
Marina Warner: Literary Diplomacy
16 November 2017
"... and memories—we are going through fierce contests now, not least in the current struggle over statues and legacies. The maps of cities carry, almost unconsciously, an account of the past, as Walter Benjamin said, and he has numerous progeny now in his quest for unearthing the layers of meaning in the streets: Rebecca Solnit has compiled atlases that are albums cum maps of personal experiences ..."
Fritz Lang and the Life of Crime
Michael Wood
19 April 2017
"... than a figuration of totalitarianism.'Crary is thinking of all the Mabuse manifestations rather than the one 1933 film; but it is true that even this Mabuse can look like a crazed counterpart of Walter Benjamin. When 'the man behind the curtain' in The Testament, the figure issuing instructions to the gang, is revealed to be a gramophone, the detective formulates his discovery in an interesting ..."
Where Life Is Seized
Adam Shatz: Frantz Fanon's Revolution
19 January 2017
Écrits sur l'aliénation et la liberté 
by Frantz Fanon, edited by Robert Young and Jean Khalfa.
"... was a rite of passage for colonised communities and individuals who had become mentally ill, in his view, as a result of the settler-colonial project, itself saturated with violence and racism. Like Walter Benjamin, Fanon believed that for the oppressed, the " 'state of emergency' in which we live is not the exception but the rule", and that his revolutionary duty was to help 'bring about a ...
At the Royal Academy
T.J. Clark: James Ensor
1 December 2016
"... Picasso and de Chirico—that the ordinary, daily, material life of modernity be seen to be haunted by the unreal, the deathly, the disguised, the predatory, the phantasmagoric? The famous tagline Walter Benjamin borrowed from Leopardi—'Fashion: Madame Death! Madame Death!'—seems made for the world Ensor shows. 'The Intrigue' (1890) Look again at The Intrigue and Skeletons ..."
Ways to Be Pretentious
Ian Penman
4 May 2016
M Train 
by Patti Smith.
Collected Lyrics 1970-2015 
by Patti Smith.
"... so many petitions to sign, even an equivalent of that dread 1970s 'Do you want to see our holiday slides?' moment up on Instagram. It is they who now move into the kind of dilapidated prole areas Walter Benjamin and the Situationists once hymned, only to gentrify them with ... the funky little coffee shops Patti Smith hymns throughout M Train. If M Train is a kind of celebrity psychogeographica, it ..."
Frameworks of Comparison
Benedict Anderson
21 January 2016
"... that British intellectual isolation had to be broken out of by 1) a massive importing of translated works by key Marxists beyond the Channel: Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Althusser, Debray, Adorno, Benjamin, Habermas, Bobbio and many others; and 2) making NLR as internationalist as possible in the problems it addressed. From 1974 I started to read NLR from cover to cover and was profoundly re-educated ..."
Dr Vlad
Terry Eagleton: Edna O'Brien
21 October 2015
The Little Red Chairs 
by Edna O'Brien.
"... could the commandants of the concentration camps curl up in the evenings with a volume of classical verse? Is culture merely a sublimation of barbarism? Is it an authentic source of value even if (as Walter Benjamin considered) its roots were to be found in wretchedness and exploitation, or do its cloistered refinements fatally weaken our sensitivity to more mundane matters, insulating us from common or ..."
Ardis Butterfield: Who was Chaucer?
26 August 2015
"... To articulate what is past does not mean to recognise 'how it really was'. It means to take control of a memory, as it flashes in a moment of danger. Walter Benjamin, 'On the Concept of History' (1940) "I am finding it very hard to write a Chaucer biography. Commissioned an uncomfortably long time ago, I have delayed and fussed, despaired and dithered, and ..."
What is concrete?
Michael Wood: Erich Auerbach
5 March 2015
Time, History and Literature: Selected Essays of Erich Auerbach 
by Erich Auerbach, edited by James Porter, translated by Jane Newman.
"... sought to derive something like a history of mentalities under the guise of Romance philology', and Emily Apter, in Against World Literature (2013), connects his secular theology to that of Walter Benjamin. Auerbach was born in Berlin in 1892, took a doctorate in law at the University of Heidelberg, served in the army during World War One, took another doctorate in Romance languages at the ..."
The Frisson
Will Self
20 January 2014
The View from the Train: Cities and Other Landscapes 
by Patrick Keiller.
"... wash over you—is to find yourself caught up in an internal argument about the legitimacy of the idea of the lifetime's project. In the last piece collected here, 'Imaging', Keiller quotes Walter Benjamin's essay 'Surrealism', dwelling in particular on his description of Breton and Nadja as 'the lovers who convert everything we have experienced on mournful railway journeys (railways ..."
Some Damn Foolish Thing
Thomas Laqueur: Wrong Turn in Sarajevo
5 December 2013
The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 
by Christopher Clark.
"... the metaphor of sleepwalking elides a horrible truth about history that Clark's book makes so poignantly. The 19th-century way of putting it was to say that the 'owl of Minerva flies at dusk'. Walter Benjamin puts it in a more 20th-century sort of way: A Klee painting named Angelus Novus shows an angel looking as though he is about to move away from something he is fixedly contemplating. His ..."
Sedan Chairs and Turtles
Leland de la Durantaye: Benjamin's Baudelaire
21 November 2013
Charles Baudelaire: Un poeta lirico nell'età del capitalismo avanzato 
by Walter Benjamin, edited by Giorgio Agamben, Barbara Chitussi and 
Clemens-Carl Härle.
"... On a spring day in 1940 Walter Benjamin gathered together the thousands of pages comprising his work of the last decade and carried them to his favourite place in Paris, the Bibliothèque nationale. When he got there he gave them to ..."
To Be or Knot to Be
Adam Phillips
9 October 2013
The Hamlet Doctrine 
by Simon Critchley and Jamieson Webster.
"... outsiders to the world of Shakespeare criticism', and so they have allied themselves with what they call 'a series of outsider interpretations of Hamlet, notably those of Carl Schmitt, Walter Benjamin, Hegel, Freud, Lacan and Nietzsche'. As outsiders go, at least in the academic world, these seem fairly mainstream figures. But they have been chosen because what each of their ..."
In the Cybersweatshop
Christian Lorentzen: Pynchon Dotcom
26 September 2013
Bleeding Edge 
by Thomas Pynchon.
"... obvious pleasure in the game: in his gags and obscurities, in storytelling, and in chronicling the wasted days and nights of a scene that flickered for a few years and then burned out. In his memoir Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen, Larry McMurtry writes: 'There circulated, in the Sixties, the legend that Thomas Pynchon read only the Encyclopaedia Britannica; it was even said that much of the ..."
Just don't think about it
Benjamin​ Kunkel: Boris Groys
8 August 2013
Introduction to Antiphilosophy 
by Boris Groys.
"... with a corresponding barrenness and magnificence, of a Marxist aesthetics stressing the artist's receptivity rather than activism. Far from imagining a revolutionary popular art, as Brecht and Walter Benjamin had in different ways done in the 1930s, Adorno elaborated an aesthetics of suffering, in the senses both of passivity and pain: 'Authentic works are those that surrender themselves to the ..."
Marseille, 1940-43
Neal Ascherson
18 July 2013
"... consulate queue were constellations of German, Austrian and Eastern European anti-fascist celebrities: Heinrich and Golo Mann, Hannah Arendt, Anna Seghers, Simone Weil, Arthur Koestler, Victor Serge, Walter Benjamin, Franz Werfel and his wife Alma Mahler, Lion Feuchtwanger, Konrad Heiden (Hitler's first truthful biographer), Marc Chagall, Jacques Lipchitz, Moïse Kisling, the young Claude Lévi ..."
On Not Getting the Credit
Brian Dillon: Eileen Gray
23 May 2013
"... a few years later. Until the 1920s, the interiors on which Gray worked, and much of the furniture with which she filled them, retained something of the over-stuffed Fin-de-Siècle: rooms which, as Walter Benjamin said, functioned like the shell of a snail or an aquatic creature. A photograph taken in the early 1920s of one of Gray's most important clients shows the persistence of this sense of ..."
How to Shoe a Flea
James Meek: Nikolai Leskov
25 April 2013
'The Enchanted Wanderer' and Other Stories 
by Nikolai Leskov, translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.
The Enchanted Wanderer 
by Nikolai Leskov, translated by Ian Dreiblatt.
"... Russians like Chinua Achebe or James Hogg who span the distance from village hearth to salon without feeling the need to pledge allegiance to one or the other. Leskov is the titular protagonist of Walter Benjamin's essay 'The Storyteller', where the critic offers internet-anticipating insights into the incompatibility of storytelling and its modern mass-produced counterpart, information, which ..."
Mysteries of the City
Mark Ford: Baudelaire and Modernity
21 February 2013
Baudelaire: The Complete Verse 
edited and translated by Francis Scarfe.
Baudelaire: Paris Blues/Le Spleen de Paris 
edited and translated by Francis Scarfe.
Seeing Double: Baudelaire's Modernity 
by Françoise Meltzer.
"... the title a sardonic reference to Dante's ideal beloved) so vividly demonstrates. This is the reason Baudelaire now stands, Janus-faced, on the threshold of so many discussions of modernity. It was Walter Benjamin who most persuasively argued that Baudelaire was the first 'writer of modern life', adapting the title of Baudelaire's encomium on the artist Constantin Guys, 'The Painter of Modern ..."
Not in the Mood
Adam Shatz: Derrida's Secrets
22 November 2012
Derrida: A Biography 
by Benoît Peeters, translated by Andrew Brown.
"... two decades, he began to evolve into a different sort of thinker, a globally attuned ethicist, as if in response to the charges made by his adversaries. He spoke less of Heidegger than of Levinas and Walter Benjamin, whose radical Jewish messianism struck a chord with him. Deconstruction, he now claimed, had always been about justice, all the more so for having been silent about it. He continued to pun ..."
Preposterous Timing
Hal Foster: Medieval Modern Art
8 November 2012
Medieval Modern: Art out of Time 
by Alexander Nagel.
Depositions: Scenes from the Late Medieval Church and the Modern Museum 
by Amy Knight Powell.
"... disenchanted types). Yet in the end it is not always clear whether his juxtapositions of the premodern and (post)modern count as historical constellations that, like the 'dialectical images' of Walter Benjamin, stir us from the slumber of our historicist chronologies, as Nagel intends, or whether—as he fears—they are exercises in 'historical telescoping', a reprocessing of old ..."
i could've sold to russia or china
Jeremy Harding: Bradley Manning
19 July 2012
The Passion of Bradley Manning: The Story of the Suspect Behind the Largest 
Security Breach in US History 
by Chase Madar.
"... that she later tied to one of the crowd barriers. It read, very roughly: Thank you, Assange, for giving us a history of the vanquished. She was thinking of something by Brecht, she said, or possibly Walter Benjamin. An older, more eccentric figure assured me that Assange had sneaked away from the embassy the week before through a tunnel under Harrods: the store's security guards had just let her in ..."
Mike Jay: Opium
21 June 2012
Opium: Reality's Dark Dream 
by Thomas Dormandy.
"... redemption are conducted. The panoramic view of opium's history shows clearly enough that it has always had its dark aspect, but suggests that in the modern era we have also become addicted to what Walter Benjamin called 'that most terrible drug—ourselves—which we take in solitude ..."
What is the rational response?
Malcolm Bull: Climate Change Ethics
24 May 2012
A Perfect Moral Storm: The Ethical Tragedy of Climate Change 
by Stephen Gardiner.
"... moments before climate change entered stage left as the new nemesis of consumer capitalism. Perhaps we should think of climate change as an updated version of the chess-playing Turkish puppet that Walter Benjamin likened to historical materialism operated by the hidden hand of theology, save that historical materialism has now become the wizened hunchback that controls the puppet and has to keep out ..."
Must poets write?
Stephanie Burt: Poetry Post-Language
10 May 2012
Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New Century 
by Marjorie Perloff.
Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age 
by Kenneth Goldsmith.
Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing 
edited by Craig Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith.
Seven Controlled Vocabularies and Obituary 2004, The Joy of Cooking: 
[Airport Novel Musical Poem Painting Film Photo Hallucination Landscape] 
by Tan Lin.
"... writer Yoko Tawada and the French Norwegian (based in London) Caroline Bergvall alongside that earlier, more self-confident polyglottist, Ezra Pound. Perloff finds a precursor for all this in Walter Benjamin, who during the 1930s collected thousands of quotations (mostly in French) about Paris, its glass and iron shopping arcades, its street fights, its shopgirls, its effects on Baudelaire and Marx ..."
Proust and His Mother
Michael Wood
22 March 2012
"... the extravagance of their expression. But can a mismeasure be a match? All we know is that we don't want to lose or reduce the extravagance but can't quite fall for it either. An example would be Walter Benjamin's wonderful remark about missed experiences in Proust: None of us has time to live the true dramas of the life that we are destined for. This is what ages us—this and nothing else ..."
Hal Foster: Diego Rivera
26 January 2012
"... of subject and technique—indigenous and modern, Mexican and European, fresco and steel, history painting and photographic effects—make sense. Across the Atlantic in these same years, Walter Benjamin argued that mass society and mass media worked to erode the auratic basis of traditional art. Rivera wanted it both ways—technological advance in society and iconic authority in art..."
His Bonnet Akimbo
Patrick Wright: Hamish Henderson
3 November 2011
Hamish Henderson: A Biography. Vol. I: The Making of the Poet (1919-53) 
by Timothy Neat.
Hamish Henderson: A Biography. Vol. II: Poetry Becomes People (1954-2002) 
by Timothy Neat.
"... narratives and folkish symbols that orthodox Marxism might dismiss as anachronistic relics, but which he saw being rekindled in the National Socialist imagination—and with the concerns of Walter Benjamin, whose backward-looking 'angel of history' has been widely perceived as the emblem of a discontinuous age in which the past can be secured in the present only through a measure of ..."
I am the decider
Hal Foster: Agamben, Derrida and Santner
17 March 2011
The Beast and the Sovereign. Vol. I 
by Jacques Derrida, translated by Geoffrey Bennington.
"... state of exception is not a primordial event lost in the mists of time; it recurs whenever a government declares a 'state of emergency'and suspends its own judicial code. In fact, as foreseen by Walter Benjamin in 'Theses on the Philosophy of History' (1940), his final text before he committed suicide while in flight from Nazi Europe, this state threatens to be 'not the exception but the rule ..."
Terry Eagleton: Marx and Hobsbawm
3 March 2011
How to Change the World: Marx and Marxism 1840-2011 
by Eric Hobsbawm.
"... to a few casual asides. Hobsbawm also thinks that Gramsci is the most original thinker produced by the West since 1917. Perhaps he means the most original Marxist thinker, but even that is dubious. Walter Benjamin is surely a better qualified candidate for that title. Even the most erudite students of Marxism, however, will find themselves learning from these essays. It is, for example, part of the ..."

Into the Big Tent
Benjamin​ Kunkel: Fredric Jameson
22 April 2010
Valences of the Dialectic 
by Fredric Jameson.
"... Over the last quarter-century, Jameson has been at once the timeliest and most untimely of American critics and writers. Not only did he develop interests in film, science fiction, or the work of Walter Benjamin, say, earlier than most of his colleagues in the humanities, he was also a pioneer of that enlargement of literary criticism (Jameson received a PhD in French literature from Yale in 1959 ..."

Will Self: On the Common
25 February 2010
"... trot from Felix Weil and Carl Grünberg's founding of the Institute for Social Research in 1923, through the formulation of critical theory, to the exile of Horkheimer and Adorno, the suicide of Benjamin, and Adorno's eventual repatriation to serve as the Janus-faced figurehead of the 1977 German Autumn, well ... it was exactly what I needed. I've never warmed to Clapham Common much: the area ..."

Hugolian Gothic
Graham Robb: Gargoyles of Notre-Dame
25 February 2010
The Gargoyles of Notre-Dame: Medievalism and the Monsters of Modernity 
by Michael Camille.
"... they appeared to be looking out over the city at nothing in particular, often with a peculiarly vacant expression: 'eyes characteristic of people on public transport', Camille says, paraphrasing Walter Benjamin. The customers of Viollet-le-Duc's 'factory' for 'the mass production of the medieval' were not medieval themselves, and so there was to be no buggering of kings, and only one ..."

The Sound of Thunder
Tom Nairn: The Miners' Strike
8 October 2009
Marching to the Fault Line: The 1984 Miners' Strike and the Death of 
Industrial Britain 
by Francis Beckett and David Hencke.
Shafted: The Media, the Miners' Strike and the Aftermath 
edited by Granville Williams.
"... into a global earth-shift. In his contribution to Shafted, Michael Bailey argues that since the spectre of socialism and historical materialism continues to haunt society, it's legitimate to invoke Walter Benjamin, to keep 'control of that memory', and to 'blast open the continuum of history'. Tony Benn, in his foreword, still dreams of coming 'together with a similar programme and ..."

A Positive Future
David Simpson: Ernst Cassirer
26 March 2009
Ernst Cassirer: The Last Philosopher of Culture 
by Edward Skidelsky.
The Symbolic Construction of Reality: The Legacy of Ernst Cassirer 
edited by Jeffrey Andrew Barash.
"... life. There is no redundancy: everything is connected. But allegory has had its defenders, and arguably they have been the winners in the past century's intellectual disputes about representation. Walter Benjamin, in The Origins of German Tragic Drama, took issue with a notion of the symbol that he saw as debased because it was no longer a theological complex of material and transcendental elements ..."

Water me
Graham Robb: Excentricité
26 March 2009
Eccentricity and the Cultural Imagination in 19th-Century Paris 
by Miranda Gill.
"... quack doctors and cruel, destructive superstitions, well into the 20th century? For that matter, how much of that urban 'anxiety' reflects the later experiences of influential eccentrics such as Walter Benjamin and Michel Foucault? Medical discourse may well, as Gill claims, have eroded tolerance of difference and deformity, and it may belong to the history of 'attempts to define and police the ..."

Still Superior
Mark Greif: Sex and Susan Sontag
12 February 2009
Reborn: Early Diaries, 1947-64 
by Susan Sontag, edited by David Rieff.
"... Jewish and in flight from the Nazis, sometimes inward-looking or mad; Modernist yet lesser-known, often because failed, or thwarted, or unproductive, or fragmentary in literary remains—Barthes, Benjamin, Artaud, Pavese, Canetti, Leiris, Walser, Cioran. Sontag wouldn't even utter the names of many of those she had as forefathers. Kant was the grandee of the aesthetic of sexless distance she so ..."

The Medium is the Market
Hal Foster: Business Art
9 October 2008
"... bulbous parts of the poodle morphing into weaponised breasts or penises; and the initial DOB bears more than a trace of the sadomasochistic nastiness sometimes sensed in Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck. Walter Benjamin once speculated that the early Disney films were so popular because 'the public recognises its own life' in the trials Mickey and Donald are made to endure, and that their primary lesson ..."

Perry Anderson: After the Ottomans
11 September 2008
"... of the official enterprise: the less there was to be confident of, the more fanfare had to be made out of it. Observing Kemalist cultural policies in 1936-37, Erich Auerbach wrote from Istanbul to Walter Benjamin: 'the process is going fantastically and spookily fast: already there is hardly anyone who knows Arabic or Persian, and even Turkish texts of the past century will quickly become ..."

Does a donkey have to bray?
Terry Eagleton: The Reality Effect
25 September 2008
Accident: A Philosophical and Literary History 
by Ross Hamilton.
"... persuasive. It is this tension between the generic and the particular that realism is forced to negotiate as best it can. The rather ponderous narrative of this book is punctured by moments of what Walter Benjamin might have called profane illumination, accidental events that manage even so to represent strange epiphanies or conversion experiences. 'Accident,' Hamilton remarks, 'rose to ..."

Madame Matisse's Hat
T.J. Clark: On Matisse
14 August 2008
"... in mourning, lovers in mourning, bourgeois in mourning. We are all celebrating some funeral.' Or, better still, of Giacomo Leopardi's terrible Dialogue between Fashion and Death, from which Walter Benjamin chose the following line to epitomise his 'Paris, Capital of the 19th Century' (a line in which Fashion addresses its double directly): 'Fashion: Mr Death! Mr Death!' Or, best of all ..."

Yeats and Violence
Michael Wood: On 'Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen'
14 August 2008
"... that 'mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,' he does not mean mere disorder. He means what is perceived as a new degree of uncontrollable violence and a new realm of impunity. Both Yeats and Walter Benjamin invoke the story of Niobe in this context. Niobe was the queen of Thebes who boasted of having so many children, and in particular of having more children than the goddess Leto. Leto had ..."

Determinacy Kills
Terry Eagleton: Theodor Adorno
19 June 2008
Theodor Adorno: One Last Genius 
by Detlev Claussen.
"... refugee from the Nazis rather than from Irish theocracy, Adorno knew that simply to write off a reified rationality was to play into the hands of the savage enemies of reason who murdered his friend Walter Benjamin. But reason was part of the problem as well, which only a certain dialectical or deconstructive style of thought could unlock. How could one retrieve that otherness that Western reason has ..."

Terry Eagleton: Anonymity
22 May 2008
Anonymity: A Secret History of English Literature 
by John Mullan.
"... same play as Peter Hall's first London production. We cannot simply put Auschwitz out of our minds while watching The Merchant of Venice. Writerly meaning does not always trump readerly meaning. Walter Benjamin believed that works of literature secreted certain meanings which might be released only in their afterlife, as they came to be read in as yet unforeseeable situations. He thought much the ..."

Eric Hobsbawm: Memories of Weimar
24 January 2008
"... of the Weimar Republic and the reasons non-Germans take an interest in it are not political but intellectual and cultural. The word today suggests the Bauhaus, George Grosz, Max Beckmann, Walter Benjamin, the great photographer August Sander and a number of remarkable movies. Weitz picks out six names: Thomas Mann, Brecht, Kurt Weill, Heidegger and the less familiar theorist Siegfried Kracauer and ..."

Understanding Forwards
Michael Wood: William James
20 September 2007
William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism 
by Robert Richardson.
"... the cosmic effrontery, the sheer panache of this ailing philosopher with one foot in the grave talking down the second law of thermodynamics? . . . The matchless incandescent spirit of the man!' Walter Benjamin thought a philosophy that couldn't account for fortune-telling by means of coffee grounds couldn't be a real philosophy. Many have thought just the reverse, of course. One mention of ..."

In a Cold Country
Michael Wood: Coetzee's Grumpy Voice
4 October 2007
Diary of a Bad Year 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Inner Workings: Essays 2000-2005 
by J.M. Coetzee.
"... in Inner Workings, of Italo Svevo, Bruno Schulz, Joseph Roth, W.G. Sebald. The method is less biographical for Saul Bellow, Graham Greene, Nadine Gordimer and others, and a long, frosty essay on Walter Benjamin engages crucial concepts thoroughly and ends in a magnificent, if ambiguous tribute: 'From a distance, Benjamin's magnum opus'—The Arcades Project—'is curiously reminiscent ..."

Through the Trapdoor
Jeremy Harding: Walter Benjamin's Last Day
19 July 2007
The Narrow Foothold 
by Carina Birman.
"... by the authorities. Hans was in central France at a camp in Vernuche; Lisa was near the Pyrenees in a 'women's camp' in Gurs, which had been holding refugees from Spain. (Hannah Arendt and Walter Benjamin's sister Dora were also interned at Gurs, while Benjamin had spent several weeks in Vernuche.) As the Germans advanced deeper into France and the administration reeled, evasion or ..."

Perfect and Serene Oddity
Michael Hofmann: The Strangeness of Robert Walser
16 November 2006
Speaking to the Rose: Writings, 1912-32 
by Robert Walser, translated and edited by Christopher Middleton.
"... to lie') and patnesses ('like old bottles of wine', 'exalted to a place of honour'), is an instance of that blending of motivelessness and deliberateness, of control and abdication, that Walter Benjamin appreciated in Walser; he seems, by turns and putting it very bluntly, too stupid to be cynical and too cynical to be stupid. A sort of repro aesthetic ('Walser paints a postcard world ..."

Six Wolfs, Three Weills
David Simpson: Emigration from Nazi Germany
5 October 2006
Weimar in Exile: The Anti-Fascist Emigration in Europe and America 
by Jean-Michel Palmier, translated by David Fernbach.
"... concentration camp had been received by Stalin, Roosevelt and the king of England'. After the French collapse these camps became 'mousetraps' from which escape was both necessary and difficult: Walter Benjamin, Ernst Weiss and Walter Hasenclever all committed suicide rather than fall into the hands of the Gestapo. Those who crossed the Atlantic rarely found their lives endangered, but they still ..."

Looking back at the rubble
David Simpson: War and the Built Environment
25 May 2006
The Destruction of Memory: Architecture at War 
by Robert Bevan.
"... would not be solved simply by putting up houses. Can we imagine a world in which we do not invest our built environment with the functions of representing ourselves to ourselves as culturally alive? Walter Benjamin theorised a state of distraction in which we function ordinarily without noticing the buildings around us, and he thought of this as a state of happiness, of not needing to pay attention to ..."

Making a Break
Terry Eagleton: Fredric Jameson's Futures
9 March 2006
Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions 
by Fredric Jameson.
"... Walter Benjamin once remarked that what drove men and women to revolt was not dreams of liberated grandchildren but memories of oppressed ancestors. Visions of future happiness are all very well; but happiness is a ..."

Lenin Shot at Finland Station
Slavoj Žižek: Counterfactuality and the conservative historian
18 August 2005
What Might Have Been: Imaginary History from 12 Leading Historians 
edited by Andrew Roberts.
"... Marxist, the actual history that we live is itself the realisation of an alternative history: we have to live in it because, in the past, we failed to seize the moment. In an outstanding reading of Walter Benjamin's 'Theses on the Philosophy of History' (which Benjamin never published), Eric Santner elaborated the notion that a present revolutionary intervention repeats/redeems failed attempts ..."

Lend me a fiver
Terry Eagleton: The grand narrative of experience
23 June 2005
Songs of Experience: Modern American and European Variations on a Universal Theme 
by Martin Jay.
"... than in your head. Experience can mean either the flow of everyday sensations, or especially memorable chunks of it, or the wisdom and know-how which come from having been in the game a long time. Walter Benjamin saw it as the stories which the old recount to the young, and its disintegration in modern times seemed to him one of the most grievous forms of human poverty. The warning that experience is ..."

Jacques Derrida
Judith Butler: Commemorating 'one of the greatest philosophers of the 20th century'
4 November 2004
"... to the death penalty, and even in his queries about 'being' Jewish and what it means to offer hospitality to those of differing origins and language. Derrida made clear in his short book on Walter Benjamin, The Force of Law (1994), that justice was a concept that was yet to come. This does not mean that we cannot expect instances of justice in this life, and it does not mean that justice will ..."

Breathing in Verse
Theodore Ziolkowski: A rich translation of Hölderlin
23 September 2004
Poems and Fragments 
by Friedrich Hölderlin, translated by Michael Hamburger.
"... Henrich published an enormous phenomenology of Hölderlin's thought under the title Der Grund im Bewußtsein (1992). The visionary magic that entranced Stefan George's circle was denounced by Walter Benjamin and exploited by the Nazis for propaganda purposes. Hölderlin's mental problems have attracted considerable attention in France, from Jean Laplanche's psychoanalytical probings to ..."

In the Waiting-Room of History
Amit Chaudhuri: 'First in Europe, then elsewhere'
24 June 2004
Provincialising Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference 
by Dipesh Chakrabarty.
"... started. This poster captured and compressed the gradations of Darwin's parable of evolution, both arresting time and focusing on the key moments of a concatenation, in a similar way to what Walter Benjamin thought photographs did in changing our perception of human movement: Whereas it is a commonplace that, for example, we have some idea what is involved in the act of walking (if only in ..."

Terry Eagleton: Lawrence Sanitised
5 February 2004
D.H. Lawrence and 'Difference': Post-Coloniality and the Poetry of the Present 
by Amit Chaudhuri.
"... periods of revolutionary turmoil, theorists have sometimes redefined themselves as technical consultants to cultural practitioners. Osip Brik, a Formalist critic, played this role for Mayakovsky, as Walter Benjamin did for Brecht. The point about revolutions is that they get left-wing critics out of the house. The critic runs the workshop in which various poetic devices are tested and examined for ..."

Nicely Combed
Matthew Reynolds: Ungaretti
4 December 2003
Selected Poems 
by Giuseppe Ungaretti, translated by Andrew Frisardi.
"... nightmare is, from another point of view, their dream. When we read literary translations we should not expect them to provide us with an 'equivalent of' their source. We should instead—as Walter Benjamin proposed in his visionary essay 'The Task of the Translator'—ask how the imaginative life of the source text has been prolonged, what has been done by the translation, what it points ..."

Pork Chops and Pineapples
Terry Eagleton: The Realism of Erich Auerbach
23 October 2003
Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature 
by Erich Auerbach.
"... the spooky Gothic fiction she disliked so much reflects more of the anxiety and agitation of an Age of Revolution than Mansfield Park does. Life can be a good deal more surreal than André Breton. Walter Benjamin considered that Baudelaire's poetry reflected the urban masses of Paris, even though those masses are nowhere actually present in his work. Bertolt Brecht thought that realism was a matter ..."

It wasn't him, it was her
Jenny Diski: Nietzsche's Bad Sister
25 September 2003
Nietzsche's Sister and the Will to Power: A Biography of Elisabeth 
by Carol Diethe.
"... what she describes of Elisabeth and Friedrich's lives. To fill out her omissions and even to make sense of the overall narrative I read Ronald Hayman, J.P. Stern, Michael Tanner, Rüdiger Bittner, Walter Kaufmann, Leslie Chamberlain and, yes, even Nietzsche on Nietzsche, Ben MacIntyre on Elisabeth's Paraguayan adventure, and H.F. Peters on Lou Andreas-Salomé (some of the detail below is from these ..."

Donald Duck gets a cuffing
J. Hoberman: Disney, Benjamin, Adorno
24 July 2003
Hollywood Flatlands: Animation, Critical Theory and the Avant-Garde 
by Esther Leslie.
"... of Mickey Mouse: 'Have we nothing better to do than decorate our garments with dirty animals because American commerce Jews want profit?' That same year in Berlin, Esther Leslie reports, Walter Benjamin was also thinking about Mickey mania. After talking to some friends, including Kurt Weill, Benjamin made a few notes in praise of this insolent, lowlife, magically animated creature. Mickey's ..."

Long Live Aporia!
Hal Foster: William Gaddis
24 July 2003
Agapē Agape 
by William Gaddis.
The Rush for Second Place: Essays and Occasional Writings 
by William Gaddis, edited by Joseph Tabbi.
"... books, this one makes a subject of its own (un)making, and dramatises the predicament of the author in the process. Imagine Proust, propped up in bed, rambling about his writing life, crossed with Benjamin, in his last days at the Bibliothèque Nationale, rearranging his Arcades notes, and add a little of the 'I can't go on, I go on' of Beckett and a lot of the run-on ranting of Thomas Bernhard ..."

Platz Angst
David Trotter: Agoraphobia
24 July 2003
Repressed Spaces: The Poetics of Agoraphobia 
by Paul Carter.
"... the balance of masses. More recently, a connection has been made between Westphal's account of agoraphobia and the analyses of modern alienation undertaken by Georg Simmel, Siegfried Kracauer and Walter Benjamin. These analyses restore a certain proportion between stimulus and response. In them, agoraphobia disappears as a category. It is the environment that must be held responsible for causing ..."

What kept Hector and Andromache warm in windy Troy?
David Simpson: 'Vehement Passions'
19 June 2003
The Vehement Passions 
by Philip Fisher.
"... This is why Norbert Elias saw the pacification and demilitarisation of the aristocracy as one of the fundamental motives for the civilising process that produced the modern middle class. And why Walter Benjamin, in his still challenging essay on 'The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technical Reproducibility', saw distraction and low-intensity, habit-driven behaviour (Ablenkung and Zerstreuung) as ..."

Barry Schwabsky: Who is Menzel?
17 April 2003
Menzel's Realism: Art and Embodiment in 19th-Century Berlin 
by Michael Fried.
"... from a single page. Similarly, Fried is continually seeking to buttress his reading of Menzel's works by drawing parallels with cultural authority figures ranging from Kierkegaard and Kafka to Walter Benjamin and Ralph Waldo Emerson. The comparisons are invariably resonant, yet often feel poorly integrated: they should either have been more punctual and suggestive or else more elaborately ..."

Red makes wrong
Mark Ford: Harry Mathews
20 March 2003
The Human Country: New and Collected Stories 
by Harry Mathews.
The Case of the Persevering Maltese: Collected Essays 
by Harry Mathews.
"... the 'magic of changing' in a manner that renders elusive the thing being changed. Pagolak is all process, like an abstract expressionist canvas, or like the pure 'mode of intention' that Walter Benjamin envisioned linking the different languages of the world in 'The Task of the Translator' (1923). This, of course, makes Pagolak untranslatable—indeed, any version of a Pagolak ..."

Fundamentally Goyish
James Wood: Zadie Smith
3 October 2002
The Autograph Man 
by Zadie Smith.
"... from Marilyn Monroe, Kafka, Lenny Bruce (who occupies an entire page), Billy Wilder, Madonna (or the 'popular singer Madonna Ciccone', as Smith has it, a tic that runs throughout the book), Walter Benjamin (or 'the popular wise guy Walter Benjamin'). Each chapter has a cute digest at its head, announcing the delights on offer: 'Alex-Li Tandem was Jewish—A rainbow over Mountjoy—..."

In Moscow
Tony Wood: In Moscow
8 August 2002
"... begin to seem like stage sets as soon as you notice what fills the spaces behind them. There is a striking uncertainty about Moscow urbanism, a looseness in its grip on the landscape, something Walter Benjamin, who was in Moscow from December 1926 to February 1927, observed with perceptive perplexity: In the streets of Moscow there is a curious state of affairs: the Russian village is playing ..."

Reports from the Not Too Distant Canon
Frank Kermode
23 May 2002
The Invasion Handbook 
by Tom Paulin.
"... and making some kind of whole of it. The prevailing or default mode of the book is verse in short rather rackety and sometimes rickety lines. Frequently it is merely chopped prose. In a vignette of Walter Benjamin we find this: 'after he fled Berlin/the Bibliothèque Nationale/was the only place/he allowed himself to feel at home in./It couldn't be a sanctuary/for it gave him only/a brief passing ..."

A Good Reason to Murder Your Landlady
Terry Eagleton: I.A. Richards
25 April 2002
I.A. Richards: Selected Works 1919-38 
edited by John Constable.
"... the way that modern life, with its brittleness of response, noisy disruptions and drastic impoverishment of experience, has thrown us out of kilter. Richards was thus one of the many critics—Walter Benjamin is perhaps the most celebrated—who recorded the death of experience or decline of bourgeois interiority in the late capitalist epoch. Like Leavis, he imagined that the effects of ..."

Hare's Blood
Peter Wollen: John Berger
4 April 2002
The Selected Essays of John Berger 
edited by Geoff Dyer.
"... when he had to function within a market economy. As time went by, Berger clearly began to broaden his understanding of Marxism. By the 1970s he is writing in New Society about Victor Serge and Walter Benjamin, independent Marxists who were opposed to the Party line or idiosyncratic in their interpretation of Marxist theory. Serge was a former anarchist who was soon expelled from the Party and ..."

Start thinking
Michael Wood: The aphorisms of Karl Kraus
7 March 2002
Dicta and Contradicta 
by Karl Kraus, translated by Jonathan McVity.
"... on his unremitting probity and passion for justice, but his justice was all his own—there was no one else on the bench. 'His vision was never unsteadied by scepticism,' Erich Heller wrote. Walter Benjamin asserted that 'Kraus never offered an argument that had not engaged his whole person. Thus he embodies the secret of authority: never to disappoint.' It's easy to see why unsteady ..."

Iain Sinclair: At Bluewater
3 January 2002
"... painting'. Should Profile of Time be exhibited at Hampton Court Palace, in Kensington Gardens, the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew—or at Bluewater? No contest. Bluewater, the posthumous dream of Walter Benjamin, is the clear favourite. The Dalí painting from which the sculpture has been concocted was first shown in 1931. Title? The Persistence of Memory. Memory is the missing ingredient on the M25 ..."

Hey, that's me
Hal Foster: Bruce Mau
5 April 2001
Life Style 
by Bruce Mau.
"... our consumerist world the designer rules again. Yet the new designer is very different from the old: the Art Nouveau designer resisted the effects of industry, even as he also sought, in the words of Walter Benjamin, 'to win back its forms'—modern concrete, cast iron and the like—'for art'. There is no such resistance in contemporary design: it delights in post-industrial technologies ..."

 How far shall I take this character?
Richard Poirier: The Corruption of Literary Biography
2 November 2000
Bellow: A Biography 
by James Atlas.
"... himself that Trilling was quietly expressing satisfaction with this development, when instead he was once again expressing his deep misgivings. For good measure he then suggested that, by alluding to Walter Benjamin, Trilling had descended to pretentiousness and name-dropping. It's a petulant and childish swipe at both men, phrased in what seems meant to illustrate how real guys put high-flown ..."

Paper or Plastic?
John Sutherland: Richard Powers
10 August 2000
by Richard Powers.
"... is our home, our habitat, our environment. It constructs us. In Boston, Powers experienced his second epiphany. He'd been reading 'The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction' by Walter Benjamin and every Saturday morning, when entrance was free, visiting the city's Museum of Fine Arts: One Saturday, I went to see a show of a German photographer whom I thought I had never heard ..."

Reservations of the Marvellous
T.J. Clark
22 June 2000
The Arcades Project 
by Walter Benjamin​, translated by Howard Eiland.
"... boulder, scree ... It takes some getting used to. There are the Alps, fools! Sit down and wait for them to crumble! Well, yes, I guess I shall end up scribbling much the same thing. I do think that Benjamin's Arcades Project—over a thousand pages of it in this first English-language edition—is some kind of prose Communist Cantos to set beside the verse Fascist one we have. And the comparison ..."

Say hello to Rodney
Peter Wollen: How art becomes kitsch
17 February 2000
The Artificial Kingdom: A Treasury of the Kitsch Experience 
by Celeste Olalquiaga.
"... dreamscapes and, at the same time, a theoretical enquiry into the nature of kitsch and a defence of it—or certain aspects of it—against the opprobrium under which it usually falls. Drawing on Walter Benjamin, her mentor in such matters, she sketches out a distinction between two contrasting types of kitsch—the nostalgic, which is bad, and the melancholic, which is good. The nostalgic is ..."

A feather! A very feather upon the face!
Amit Chaudhuri: India before Kipling
6 January 2000
The Unforgiving Minute 
by Harry Ricketts.
"... on both sides of the Great Game. (Disguise, in Kipling, is itself a metaphor for the way the writerly imagination can enter spaces made inaccessible by taboos enforced by race or colonial policy.) As Walter Benjamin pointed out in an essay on toys, the child's imaginative world is partly a grown-up construct: toys are made for children by adults, who assign 'childish' meanings to them, which ..."

Capital W, Capital W
Michael Wood: Women writers
19 August 1999
Women Writers at Work 
edited by George Plimpton.
Just as I Thought 
by Grace Paley.
"... fiction, with their precisions and reticences, are places where once-living people can hide from mortality, if only for a while, and only for a relative handful of readers. This is better than what Walter Benjamin calls God's remembrance, since God, in Paley's view, is another of those men who are always looking the other way. A character in one of her stories draws up an inventory of all her ..."

A Talent for Beginnings
Michael Wood: Musil starts again
15 April 1999
Diaries 1899-1942 
by Robert Musil, translated by Philip Payne.
"... and when things are going to get moving, you let go and just hang out with the characters, inhabit their world and their arguments and their idiocies pretty much as they do. You begin to read in what Walter Benjamin would call a state of distraction, rather than with your habitual concentration. Instead of being afraid of missing something you start enjoying what may be irrelevant, you lose all track of ..."

 Back to the Ironing-Board
Theo Tait: Weber and Norman
15 April 1999
The Music Lesson 
by Katharine Weber.
The Museum Guard 
by Howard Norman.
"... When she wants to describe a landscape, she'll cite Jacob van Ruisdael; when she approaches the subject of photographic reproduction and the authenticity of the artefact, she quotes passages of Walter Benjamin. The justification for this is, again, that the narrator is an art historian, and this is her diary. But Patricia is not very interesting in her professional capacity and what she offers are ..."

Anthony Grafton: Warburg
1 April 1999
"... Warburg himself as one powerful theorist of culture among many others—to use him, that is, in the way that he himself used earlier scholars. Some of the tributes paid to him, like those paid to Walter Benjamin, seem excessive. Like Benjaminomania, Warburgolatry in some of its modes has more to do with the pathos of the fragment, so appealing in an age that rejects grand narratives, and the ..."

Empire of Signs
James Wood: Joseph Roth
4 March 1999
The String of Pearls 
by Joseph Roth, translated by Michael Hofmann.
"... arguments but often exquisite descriptive snatches. Karl Kraus was an earlier master of the form; in the Twenties, when Roth started writing them, Alfred Polgar was the most celebrated exponent. Walter Benjamin called Polgar 'the German master of the small form'. In 1935, writing in honour of Polgar's 60th birthday, Roth said that he considered himself Polgar's pupil: 'He polishes the ..."

Productive Mischief
Michael Wood: Borges and Borges and I
4 February 1999
Collected Fictions 
by Jorge Luis Borges, translated by Andrew Hurley.
"... is a throwaway like 'on the other hand'. It's all the same: the man's tongue is burned out. It's not the same: the reasons are quite different. In an eerie anticipation of this story, Walter Benjamin and his friend Gershom Scholem conducted just this sort of argument over a metaphor Benjamin had used about Kafka's work. Kafka's characters are students who have lost the scripture ..."

Newsreel History
Terry Eagleton: Modern Times, Modern Places by Peter Conrad
12 November 1998
Modern Times, Modern Places 
by Peter Conrad.
"... le dernier cri is nicely ambiguous, meaning the latest but also the last. In the Modernist time-scheme, every moment ushers in some fleeting future which will be instantly superseded, rather as for Walter Benjamin even the most perishable of historical moments is the strait gate through which the Messiah might enter. If classicism, which slows time down, undermines the importance of the contemporary ..."

By the Width of a Street
Christopher Prendergast: Literary geography
29 October 1998
An Atlas of the European Novel 1800-1900 
by Franco Moretti.
"... of grands boulevards, great exhibitions, department stores, along with the hinterland of empire from which so many of its commodified exhibits came. It is the universe massively investigated by Walter Benjamin as the origin of what was later to be termed 'la société du spectacle'. But 'exposition' also refers to a set of literary interests and methods, reflecting a new preoccupation with ..."

How to Save the City-Dweller
Andrew Saint: Cities
21 May 1998
Cities for a Small Planet 
by Richard Rogers.
"... old and new, mixing old-style admiration for the classical agora and public square, sentimentality about the Parisian street-café (with due homage to the voyeurism of Baudelaire as mediated through Walter Benjamin), and an uncritical hurry to endorse Richard Sennett's anxieties about the collapse of public life and modern man's retreat into privacy. What all these cultural interventions in the ..."

Kafka's Dog
P.N. Furbank
13 November 1997
The Treasure Chest 
by Johann Peter Hebel, translated by John Hibberd.
"... Hausfreundes. It established his reputation firmly, and from then on he has never been short of distinguished admirers. Chekhov and Gogol loved his stories, Tolstoy knew some of them by heart, and Walter Benjamin, Heidegger and Elias Canetti have paid ardent tribute to them. The praise is well deserved. This Treasure Chest strikes me as quite a treasure; and the new edition, with its chaste green ..."

Pretty Much like Ourselves
Terry Eagleton
4 September 1997
Modern British Utopias 1700-1850 
by Gregory Claeys.
"... years. Their opposite numbers are the prophets, who, like their Old Testament forbears, have no interest in the future beyond warning that it is likely to be unpleasant if we do not change our ways. Walter Benjamin thought that the Jewish prohibition of graven images included a refusal to make a fetish of the future. There is remarkably little utopian speculation in the work of the Jewish Marx, who ..."

Spaced Out
Terry Eagleton
24 April 1997
Justice, Nature and the Geography of Difference 
by David Harvey.
"... ourselves with precious few options. He also agrees with some Post-Modern critiques of universalist notions of justice, while believing that we can't get on politically without such ideas. Like Walter Benjamin, he is a compulsive collector of theoretical odds and ends, since in our current confused conditions you can never know which of them is going to come in handy. His book is too much a ..."

Smashing the Teapots
Jacqueline Rose
23 January 1997
Virginia Woolf 
by Hermione Lee.
"... implication, as with Lee's epigraph, is that death is something which, ideally, you get the better of. Alternatively, death can be seen as giving a unique authority to her fiction. In the words of Walter Benjamin, the storyteller used to 'borrow his authority from death' ('there used to be no house, hardly a room, in which someone had not once died'), but in modern times, dying has been ..."

 Yes, die
Gerald Hammond
23 May 1996
The Five Books of Moses 
translated by Everett Fox.
"... form: the extreme example of this is an interlinear version, in which the translation runs word for word beneath the original. This third approach to translation was most forcefully articulated by Walter Benjamin, who argued, using Hölderlin's work as an example, for a two-way process of translation, not between translation and reader but between the two languages. According to Benjamin ..."

When in Bed
David Blackbourn
19 October 1995
Reflections on a Life 
by Norbert Elias.
The Civilising Process 
by Norbert Elias.
"... confident in its German culture: anti-semites, like 'Polacks', were looked down on. The affectionate family and reassuring world of cook, nanny and governess that Elias describes remind one of Walter Benjamin's near-contemporary 'Berlin Childhood', except that where Benjamin provides a rich description of bourgeois consumption in the Belle Epoque, Elias offers surprisingly little material ..."

What did it matter who I was?
Gaby Wood
19 October 1995
The Blue Suit 
by Richard Rayner.
The Liar's Club 
by Mary Karr.
"... I thought I'd try stealing a book, just one, to see if I had the nerve.' But the adrenalin that comes from these literary crimes creates a whole other self—he becomes a book collector. Walter Benjamin wrote of the different ways to acquire books: one could write them oneself, one could borrow them, 'with its attendant non-returning', one could buy them from catalogues, auctions or ..."

An Unfinished Project
Fredric Jameson
3 August 1995
The Correspondence of Walter Benjamin​ 1910-1940 
edited by Theodor Adorno and Manfred Jacobson, translated by Evelyn Jacobson.
T.W. Adorno/Walter Benjamin: Briefwechsel 1928-40 
edited by Henri Lonitz.
"... Walter Benjamin was not a letter writer of the order of Lawrence or Flaubert, for whom the medium of the letter seems to fill a need, not for mere self-expression, but for some larger exercise of the personality in ..."

Nicholas Spice
6 July 1995
Repeated Takes: A Short History of Recording and its Effects on Music 
by Michael Chanan.
Elevator Music: A Surreal History of Muzak Easy Listening and other Moodsong 
by Joseph Lanza.
"... on the contingencies of a particular time and place and by making it permanent: 'The integrity of the musical work of the past, its intimate unity with the time and place of performance, what Walter Benjamin called its aura, has been destroyed. Music has become literally disembodied.' But as Chanan points out elsewhere in Repeated Takes, when Benjamin spoke of aura he was referring to visual ..."

What's It All About?
Tom Lubbock
6 April 1995
Shark-Infested Waters: The Saatchi Collection of British Art in the Nineties 
by Sarah Kent.
The Reviews that Caused the Rumpus, and Other Pieces 
by Brian Sewell.
"... going conversations particularly depressing or incoherent. And then you're likely to find them weary and slavish too—heigh ho, one more artist who seems only just to have read the usual bit by Walter Benjamin. (What would a work by a reader of Simone Weil be like?) I certainly feel this about the obsession with the fine art tradition that fuels a lot of contemporary art: oh no, not another work ..."

Vermin Correspondence
Iain Sinclair
20 October 1994
Frank Zappa: The Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play 
by Ben Watson.
Her Weasels Wild Returning 
by J.H. Prynne.
"... paradoxes, confessions that somehow turn into accusations, 'thoughts like slag in a poem by Jeremy Prynne'. Virtue is achieved by the act of naming the virtuous. Beautiful slicks of Adorno and Walter Benjamin that don't quite fit together (like the M25). You start to feel, convince yourself, that you've actually read these books. Passive absorption (Clinton style): the compulsory ..."

Stamp Scams
Walter Benjamin, translated by Jeffrey Mehlman
8 September 1994
"... I want to speak about a domain which the most learned and cleverest experts in philately have yet to exhaust: the subject of fraud. Fraud involving stamps. Ever since 1840, when Rowland Hill, a simple schoolmaster, was knighted, granted a stipend of some 400,000 marks, and appointed Postmaster General by the British Government in recognition of his invention of the stamp, millions upon millions have ..."

Family Stories
Patrice Higonnet
4 August 1994
The Past in French History 
by Robert Gildea.
La Gauche survivra-t-elle aux socialistes? 
by Jean-Marie Colombani.
"... whom Pierre Birnbaum recently described as 'Les fous de la République'. One would like to know more also about the para-political myths of rural and urban life (George Sand and Flaubert) or the Walter Benjamin myth of Paris as the capital of the 19th century. Gildea ends his account on a happy note: French political myths of both Left and Right are, he thinks, alive and well. Indeed, French ..."

Exit Sartre
Fredric Jameson
7 July 1994
Past Imperfect: French Intellectuals, 1944-1956 
by Tony Judt.
Arguing Revolution: The Intellectual Left in Post-War France 
by Sunil Khilnani.
"... carpetbaggers passing sentence on the humiliated 'East Germans' (while the property is being redistributed by the victors). 'Not even history will be safe from them if they win,' warned Walter Benjamin presciently, on a different occasion. On the other hand, this arbitrary freedom to judge the past would also seem to betray some more fundamental uncertainty in our own time about History ..."

In the Twilight Zone
Terry Eagleton
12 May 1994
The Frankfurt School 
by Rolf Wiggershaus, translated by Michael Robertson.
"... pressing the claims of specificity, non-identity, contradiction against the hubris of abstract reason. The result is a transformed view of the social whole, which Adorno developed with his friend Walter Benjamin. Benjamin, with his astonishing blend of Marxism, surrealism, Kabbala, Messianic theology and avant-garde aesthetics, belonged to the fertile Judeo-Marxist current which produced Horkheimer ..."

Collapse of the Sofa Cushions
Ruth Bernard Yeazell
24 March 1994
Victorian Poetry: Poetry, Poetics and Politics 
by Isobel Armstrong.
The Woman Reader: 1837-1914 
by Kate Flint.
"... wrote for the Monthly Repository, edited by the Benthamite W.J. Fox, the young Tennyson associated with Arthur Hallam and the conservative society of Cambridge Apostles. Deliberately borrowing from Walter Benjamin on the 20th century, Armstrong identifies the Monthly Repository group with 'a politicised aesthetics' and the Apostles with 'an aestheticised politics'. But she has no sooner traced ..."

Horrible Dead Years
Christopher Prendergast
24 March 1994
by Joanna Richardson.
"... reservoir of modern life was as likely to electrocute as to electrify. The magnificent poem, 'A une passante', gives us some sense of this, with its dramatic image (brilliantly explicated by Walter Benjamin) of the body twitching in spasm, close to nervous breakdown ('crispé comme un extravagant'). The greatest danger of risk-taking was psychic depletion, and Baudelaire's gambler (in the ..."

Unreal City
Michael Wood
7 October 1993
Paris and the 19th Century 
by Christopher Prendergast.
"... fact that the century is taken emblematically to begin with the removal of skeletons from a cemetery we move to its equally emblematic ending with the opening of the Métro. This is work inspired by Walter Benjamin, as Prendergast says, whose 'imprint' is to be found 'virtually everywhere in the following pages'. But the influence has been thoroughly assimilated, converted into practice ..."

English Proust
Christopher Prendergast
8 July 1993
In Search of Lost Time 
by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, revised 
by D.J. Enright.
"... the emphasis on 'my country' (in counterpoint to the themes of exile and homelessness which recur throughout A la recherche), engages the nature of his prose as well as his sentiments; as Walter Benjamin said, in one of the finest essays ever written on the novel, Proust's language is inseparable from his 'intransigent French spirit'. It is a language with roots reaching deep into the ..."

Martin Jay
10 June 1993
Notes to Literature: Vols I-II 
by Theodor Adorno, edited by Rolf Tiedemann, translated by Shierry Weber.
"... notably 'On Lyric Poetry and Society', 'Extorted Reconciliation: On Georg Lukács's Realism in Our Time', 'Commitment', 'Trying to Understand Endgame' and several pieces on Walter Benjamin—already exist in English and have had a significant impact on the reception of Adorno's ideas. But the collection as a whole provides the first substantial evidence for those unable to ..."

Sid after a hamster, Vicious because he wasn't
Jenny Turner
19 December 1991
England's dreaming: The Sex Pistols and Punk Rock 
by Jon Savage.
"... metaphorical, exploring possibilities and correspondences and something like an archaeology of the hints of spirit that seem to drift round certain street corners and hang in selected doorways, as Walter Benjamin did in his great Paris works and as imitated by Marcus in his book. And Savage, right enough, is man enough to have a bash: It is the early Seventies. All the participants of what will be ..."

The End
Malcolm Bull
11 March 1993
Posthistoire: Has History Come to an End? 
by Lutz Niethammer, translated by Patrick Camiller.
When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture 
by Paul Boyer.
"... which] irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned ... This storm we call progress. Like Kant's misinterpretation of the angel of Revelation 10, the angel in the ninth of Walter Benjamin's 'Theses on the Philosophy of History' stands between history and the future. He has come to end the destruction of what he would like to think are the last days. But he cannot. Time ..."

The Importance of Being Unfaithful to Wagner
Edward Said
11 February 1993
Wagner in Performance 
edited by Barry Millington and Stewart Spencer.
Wagner: Race and Revolution 
by Paul Lawrence Rose.
Wagner Handbook 
edited by Ulrich Müller and Peter Wapnewski, translated by John Deathridge.
Richard Wagner's Visit to Rossini and An Evening at Rossini's in Beau-Séjour 
by Edmond Michotte, translated by Herbert Weinstock.
"... or disagree with Achebe's critique of Conrad's reactionary and racist politics. But to equate Wagner proleptically with the Holocaust is to go much further than Achebe, and further even than Walter Benjamin, for whom every document of civilisation was also a document of barbarism. It is to amputate unseemly and horrible experiences altogether from the realm of the human, and as such a view ..."

Andrew Forge writes about the painter Frank Auerbach and the writer Robert Hughes, 
and about works of art in a dark age
Andrew Forge
27 June 1991
Nothing if not critical 
by Robert Hughes.
Frank Auerbach 
by Robert Hughes.
Figure and Abstraction in Contemporary Painting 
by Ronald Paulson.
"... the original art object, the sense of floating among its media clones, which would be so lauded in Eighties New York as part of the post-modernist experience.'One can't help reflecting that when Walter Benjamin first diagnosed the effects of mechanical reproduction sixty years ago, it was to welcome it as a liberation. Works of art were being released from their aura, their unique place in space ..."

Saint Terence
Jonathan Bate
23 May 1991
Ideology: An Introduction 
by Terry Eagleton.
"... himself divides it into two phases: the first's characterised by a fairly rigorous Marxism, born of les événements and codified in Criticism and Ideology (1976); the second, inaugurated by Walter Benjamin, or Towards a Revolutionary Criticism (1981), is still firmly Marxist at base, but has a more flexible superstructure shaped by various brands of Post-Structuralism, most notably ..."

Seeing yourself dead
Nicolas Tredell
21 February 1991
Love in a Life 
by Andrew Motion.
Three Variations on the Theme of Harm: Selected Poetry and Prose 
by Douglas Oliver.
Spoils of War 
by John Eppel.
Music for Brass 
by Brian Waltham.
by Rosamund Stanhope.
"... Modernist. It gestures towards a coherence that is not achieved, that breaks down in blankness, disconnection and inconsequence. Love in a Life offers anecdotes in search of a narrative. Death, as Walter Benjamin implied, gives life to stories, and intimations of mortality recur in Motion's anecdotes. The opening poem evokes, with hallucinatory vividness, a dream-vision of 'last century's man ..."

The Power of Sunshine
Alexander Cockburn
10 January 1991
City of Quartz: Excavating the Future of Los Angeles 
by Mike Davis.
"... its emergence as one of the twin capitals of the Pacific century, and now it has such talents in the form of Mike Davis. In his epigraph Davis situates himself and his ambitions with a quotation from Walter Benjamin: 'The superficial inducement, the exotic, the picturesque has an effect only on the foreigner. To portray a city, a native must have other, deeper motives—motives of one who travels ..."

At the Café Central
Andrew Forge
22 March 1990
First Diasporist Manifesto 
by R.B. Kitaj.
Reported Sightings: Art Chronicles, 1957-1987 
by John Ashbery, edited by David Bergman.
"... drop, under a dim street light. The hearing-aid that certain of his figures wore in the late Seventies identified them as spies, so he told us in his gloss on Autumn in Central Paris, his memorial to Walter Benjamin. But it also suggests an identification with the artist, who had been similarly equipped. I may be needing a new cover, signals Cupcake, John Hollander ..."

Tracts for the Times
Karl Miller
17 August 1989
by Paul Johnson.
CounterBlasts No 1: God, Man and Mrs Thatcher 
by Jonathan Raban.
"... to the traditional discipline of his church, dying of natural causes five years later.' Immediately before comes a fleeting reference to one of Europe's leading intellectuals of the period: 'Walter Benjamin once defined an intellectual (himself) as a man “with spectacles on his nose and autumn in his heart”.' Benjamin appears not to have been nasty enough to be chaptered in the book, and ..."

Too Close to the Bone
Allon White
4 May 1989
"... Too late altogether.Lucas Arnow is a professional engineer draining the stagni, or foetid coastal marshes in which the malarial mosquitoes breed. For many years I have treasured a quotation from Walter Benjamin which may have helped spawn the character of Arnow or, more likely, contributed something further to a figure already compounded of many memories and unconscious sources: 'The slightest ..."

America Deserta
Richard Poirier
16 February 1989
by Jean Baudrillard, translated by Chris Turner.
America Observed: The Newspaper Years of Alistair Cooke 
by Ronald Wells.
American Journals 
by Albert Camus, translated by Hugh Levick.
"... or even perceived by anyone who remains stuck in the kinds of thinking to which, as a European. Baudrillard admits to being indebted, the thinking particularly of the Frankfurt School and of Walter Benjamin. America, both the place and the book as he has conceived them, is invented to demonstrate that any theories that have not evolved as Baudrillard's have done are now, no less than persons and ..."

Doing it to Mama
Angela Carter
19 May 1988
On Birth and Madness 
by Eric Rhode.
"... It occurs to me, thinking about this wayward, infuriating book with its shining flashes of metaphysics, its linguistic imprecision, its mass of references (Blake, Kierkegaard, Shakespeare, Giorgione, Walter Benjamin, and more, and more) how deeply psychoanalysis is concerned with culture. Not only broadly, with culture as opposed to nature, but with culture in its narrowest sense—that is, high ..."

George Steiner
5 May 1988
Visions and Blueprints: Avant-Garde Culture and Radical Politics in Early 
20th-century Europe 
edited by Edward Timms and Peter Collier.
"... Post-Modernism which does not find precedent and self-ironising justification in Duchamp's jests out of the abyss. Limitations on length must have inhibited Helga Geyer-Ryan. Her contribution on Walter Benjamin's philosophy of history is characteristically intelligent and dense (she thinks in German, which, in this context, is altogether an advantage). But her sketch makes use neither of the ..."
I am a Cretan
Patrick Parrinder
21 April 1988
On Modern Authority: The Theory and Condition of Writing, 1500 to the Present Day 
by Thomas Docherty.
The Order of Mimesis: Balzac, Stendhal, Nerval, Flaubert 
by Christopher Prendergast.
"... the period inaugurated by the Renaissance (which gave rise to the quarrel of Ancients and Moderns) and the period inaugurated by the Reformation. The occasional invocation of T.S. Eliot and of Walter Benjamin (whose 'Age of Mechanical Reproduction' Docherty misreads as the age of the printing press rather than of photography and sound recording) adds further terminological lubrication. In his ..."

Carnival Time
Peter Craven
18 February 1988
The Remake 
by Clive James.
In the Land of Oz 
by Howard Jacobson.
"... mediocrity and ordinariness he once did so much to eliminate or transmute. The lust for ultimate success may be the final triumph of vulgarity over distinction, a fitting end for the faint of heart. Walter Benjamin spoke of the vulgarisation of art in the age of mechanical reproduction: maybe the same fate waits inevitably on the man or woman of talent who consigns personality or persona to a small ..."

Real Madrid
Patrick Parrinder
1 October 1987
Fortunata and Jacinta: Two Stories of Married Women 
by Benito Perez Galdos, translated by Agnes Moncy Gullon.
"... which may be felt to symbolise the birth of an heir to the soul of middle-class Spain. As the portrayal of a bourgeois society at its height, Fortunata and Jacinta sometimes brings to mind Walter Benjamin's 'Arcades' study, which traces the interconnections of the manifold social and cultural innovations of Second Empire Paris. Both Galdos and Benjamin produce a composite portrait of the ..."

Shaggy Fellows
David Norbrook
9 July 1987
A History of Modern Poetry: Modernism and After 
by David Perkins.
Collected Poems 
by Geoffrey Hill.
The Poetry of Geoffrey Hill 
by Henry Hart.
"... problem becomes intense—for those, at least, who find the poetry compelling, yet are unable to resort to the bland evasions of personal taste. The problem of the Pisan Cantos is that stated in Walter Benjamin's dictum: 'There is no document of civilisation which is not at the same time a document of barbarism.' Pound's paradise, like many utopias, is a hell for the excluded; Milton long ..."

Agreeing with Berger
Peter Campbell
19 March 1987
Ways of Telling: The Work of John Berger 
by Geoff Dyer.
"... what it was like to look at a painting, he wrote about what it was like to try to be a painter. I did not then know how much he had learnt from Marxist critics like Frederick Antal, Ernst Fischer and Walter Benjamin, but it was clear that for Berger the difficulties of a painter of our time involved more than lack of technique or talent. It was a matter of how art meshed with the other cogs in the ..."

How to be Viennese
Adam Phillips
5 March 1987
Karl Kraus: Apocalyptic Satirist 
by Edward Timms.
Half-Truths and One-and-a-Half-Truths: Selected Aphorisms of Karl Kraus 
translated by Harry Zohn.
"... Contemporaries,' he wrote, 'live from second-hand to mouth.' His passionate denunciation of social injustice was accompanied by a pious fantasy of purity, of a language being violated. It was Walter Benjamin, in 1931, who wrote what is in many ways still the most revealing essay on Kraus and his 'struggle against the empty phrase, which is the linguistic expression of the despotism with which ..."

From the Other Side
David Drew
1 August 1985
"... and circuses, fairytales and penny dreadfuls, is entitled 'Bessere Luftschlösser' (Better Castles m the Air). Bloch's passion for aerial and low life excursions was one of his many bonds with Walter Benjamin, the outstanding critical mind among his younger German contemporaries and, like Klemperer, an early admirer of Geist der Utopie. It was surely thanks to Bloch and his essay on Offenbach's ..."

Pamphleteer's Progress
Patrick Parrinder
7 February 1985
The Function of Criticism: From the 'Spectator' to Post-Structuralism 
by Terry Eagleton.
"... of a critic swiftly assimilating, and memorably responding to, wave after wave of neo-Marxist theory. As major influences, Sartre, Williams, Lukacs, Goldmann, Anderson, Althusser, Macherey, Benjamin, Derrida and the feminist movement have followed one another in quick succession. The Function of Criticism, hard on the heels of The Rape of Clarissa and Literary Theory: An Introduction, marks if ..."

Some Versions of Narrative
Christopher Norris
2 August 1984
Hermeneutics: Questions and Prospects 
edited by Gary Shapiro and Alan Sica.
The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge 
by Jean-Francois Lyotard, translated by Geoff Bennington, Brian Massumi and 
Fredric Jameson.
Literary Meaning: From Phenomenology to Deconstruction 
by William Ray.
The Philosophy of the Novel: Lukacs, Marxism and the Dialectics of Form 
by J.M. Bernstein.
Criticism and Objectivity 
by Raman Selden.
"... relevance to the question of how narrative—or the idea of narrative—relates to dialectical schemes of explanation. Bernstein preserves a clear-cut distinction here, following Lukacs (and Walter Benjamin) in locating the era of natural, authentic narrative firmly in the pre-novelistic past. It is the modern, alienated consciousness—under conditions fixed by capitalist society—that ..."

Stephen Bann
5 July 1984
Time in a Red Coat 
by George Mackay Brown.
Harland's Half-Acre 
by David Malouf.
The Border 
by Elaine Feinstein.
"... real significance of the events which have taken place. Her concern is more precisely to form a web of suggestions, in which political and personal motifs are inextricably bound up with one another. Walter Benjamin, whose suicide at Port-Bou is incorporated into the fiction, is also perhaps to be seen as the pervasive figure in this textual carpet. Quoted more than once in epigraphs to the various ..."

Broken Knowledge
Frank Kermode
4 August 1983
The Oxford Book of Aphorisms 
edited by John Gross.
The Travellers' Dictionary of Quotation: Who said what about where? 
edited by Peter Yapp.
"... Lec). Love is another rich field, dominated by Proust ('It is seldom indeed that one parts on good terms, because if one were on good terms one would not part'), but with good contributions from Walter Benjamin, and from the dependable Emerson: 'Love is the bright foreigner, the foreign self.' Here is the touch of wonder required for Rortian aphorism. It isn't to be found everywhere among the ..."

The Big Show
David Blackbourn
3 March 1983
'Hitler': A Film from Germany 
by Hans-Jürgen Syberberg, translated by Joachim Neugroschel, introduced 
by Susan Sontag.
"... theories of the Third International. But other Marxist approaches have done much to illuminate the rituals and forms as well as the functions of German fascism, deepening our understanding of what Walter Benjamin called the aestheticisation of politics. If this is one stage Syberberg chooses to leave bare, that can hardly be because he finds it impossible to represent artistically. He does, after all ..."

Wild, Fierce Yale
Geoffrey Hartman
21 October 1982
Deconstruction: Theory and Practice 
by Christopher Norris.
"... also opposed totalising explanations. It reinforced deconstructive thought and sometimes provided a political alternative. The influence of the Frankfurt group, however—Adorno, Marcuse, Benjamin, Loewenthal, among others—did not break out of social and into literary thought until recently. Norris, in any case, sees that deconstruction made an impact on literary studies precisely because ..."

Prynne's Principia
Elizabeth Cook
16 September 1982
by J.H. Prynne.
"... Warring Clans'). The satisfactions of rhyme and cadence exemplify the same process of clarification by falsification. Cadence becomes a falling away. According to this logic, lines of poetry are as Walter Benjamin describes the lines of the face—records, not of experience lived, but of our failure to experience: 'The wrinkles and creases on our faces are the registration of the great passions ..."

On the Verge of Collapse
John Sturrock
19 August 1982
The Siren's Song 
by Maurice Blanchot, edited by Gabriel Josipovici and Sacha Rabinovich.
"... Song is the first chance English readers have had to experience Maurice Blanchot. If it is the case, as Gabriel Josipovici pre-emptively asserts in his introduction, that Blanchot 'is, with Walter Benjamin, the finest literary critic of the century', then we have been grievously remiss in leaving him for so long untranslated. For Blanchot isn't new: he is in his mid-seventies, he has been ..."

Weimar in Partibus
Norman Stone
1 July 1982
Hannah Arendt: For Love of the World 
by Elizabeth Young-Bruehl.
Hannah Arendt and the Search for a New Political Philosophy 
by Bhikhu Parekh.
"... figures of the Weimar era. The Frankfurt School, in exile, established itself at West 117th Street, and it was there, on her arrival, that Hannah Arendt deposited the surviving manuscripts of Walter Benjamin. Characteristically, and perhaps accurately, she thought that the Frankfurt people handled them dishonestly. New York in the Fifties was Weimar in partibus. There are emigrations and emigrations ..."

My Americas
Donald Davie
3 September 1981
"... why, to those who think as Felstiner does, the problematics of translation are a matter almost of life and death; and when they defer to or expatiate upon European theorists of translation like Walter Benjamin or George Steiner, it is easy to miss, as I think Christopher Reid did, the altogether un-European urgency of their concern. For them, translation, and the disputable possibility of it (at ..."

Picasso and Cubism
Gabriel Josipovici
16 July 1981
Pablo Picasso: A Retrospective 
edited by William Rubin.
Picasso: His Life and Work 
by Roland Penrose.
Portrait of Picasso 
by Roland Penrose.
Viva Picasso: A Centennial Celebration, 1881-1981 
by Donald Duncan.
Picasso: The Cubist Years, 1907-1916 
by Pierre Daix and Joan Rosselet.
Picasso's Guernica: The Labyrinth of Vision 
by Frank Russell.
"... as though the sense of presence grew with the possibility of dispersal and destruction: a fact seized upon with great intensity by both Virginia Woolf and Francis Bacon, and explicitly seen by Walter Benjamin as the essence of the Modernist revolution, an insight which makes Benjamin, even today, Modernism's most profound theorist. Unlike Braque, Picasso always needed to violate his own too ..."

A Human Kafka
Gabriel Josipovici
5 March 1981
The World of Franz Kafka 
edited by J.P. Stern.
"... here and there voices began to be raised which resisted such an interpretation and insisted on the ultimately mysterious and ambiguous texture of Kafka's art. Chief among these were the voices of Walter Benjamin, Maurice Blanchot, Marthe Robert and Erich Heller. Heller's essay on The Castle in The Disinherited Mind (1952) marked a real turning point. He argued persuasively that it was folly to go ..."

Out of Germany
E.S. Shaffer
2 October 1980
The German Idea: Four English Writers and the Reception of German Thought 1800-1860 
by Rosemary Ashton.
Criticism in the Wilderness. The Study of Literature Today 
by Geoffrey Hartman.
"... that went into it.' To find a worthy representative of this tradition, Hartman is obliged to abandon both English and American criticism altogether, and to return to Schlegel's homeland and to Walter Benjamin. The heart of the book lies not in the chapter about Benjamin, however, but in the programmatic chapter called 'Literary Commentary as Literature', in which in a handful of brilliant ..."

Stephen Bann
2 October 1980
Narrative Discourse 
by Gérard Genette, translated by Jane Lewin.
"... who contents himself with such small-scale productions while preparing the major undertaking of his next book. Genette puts us in mind of the traditional seriousness of the essay form, which, as Walter Benjamin recalls in The Origin of German Tragic Drama, was a major vehicle of philosophical investigation before the system-builders of the 19th century repudiated it. Yet it is not Benjamin who ..."

John Sutherland
2 October 1980
Copyright: Intellectual Property in the Information Age 
by Edward Ploman and L. Clark Hamilton.
"... In his essay on Nikolai Leskov, Walter Benjamin observes, almost in passing, that the novel inevitably brings about the end or storytelling. Like many of Benjamin's paradoxes, this insight is very unsettling to the received idea—oh dear no, the novel doesn't tell a story after all. Benjamin's reasoning runs thus: the story (the only current example ..."

Hitler at Heathrow
E.S. Shaffer
7 August 1980
The Memoirs of Bridget Hitler 
edited by Michael Unger.
The Portage to San Cristobal of A.H. 
by George Steiner.
Young Adolf 
by Beryl Bainbridge.
"... the 11 million square feet of Nero's legendary palace, the Golden House, and connected by a series of covered galleries to the great dome housing the 'St Peter's' of the swastika. As Walter Benjamin pointed out, the 'aestheticising of politics' was one of the hallmarks of Fascism, the creation of exhibition value for the masses. 'History' is ornamental and inflates nicely to fill the ..."

The Everyday Business of Translation
George Steiner
22 November 1979
The True Interpreter 
by Louis Kelly.
"... has exhibited a prodigality and quality worryingly at odds with the weakness of much 'original' work. Could there be a connection? On the philosophic front, thinkers such as I.A. Richards, Walter Benjamin, W.V.O. Quine have made of translation the centre of a theory of meaning. All communication between source and receptor, even within one's native tongue, has been recognised as analogous ..."