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Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings
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Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings

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4.35 of 5 stars 4.35  ·  rating details  ·  1,124 ratings  ·  21 reviews
"This book is just that: reflections of a highly polished mind that uncannily approximate the century's fragments of shattered traditions." - Time
Hardcover, 348 pages
Published March 1st 1979 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P (first published 1978)
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Jonfaith
We can
remark in passing that there is no better starting point for thought than laughter. In particular, thought usually has a
better chance when one is shaken by laughter than when one’s mind is shaken and upset. The only extravagance of
the epic theatre is its amount of laughter.


This is a much more disparate collection than Illuminations. Surely this is to be expected The isfting and editing. The indecision. Reflections' opening section A Berlin Chronicle is a cartographic autobiography. It is a...more
Andrew
Being considered the "other" collection of Benjamin essays after Illuminations, it shouldn't shock me that these weren't as stunning. That said, they are still fantastic. This volume includes many of Benjamin's more personal, less theoretical writings, including the lengthy, wonderfully Germanic childhood reminiscence that opens the book. You get Benjamin the traveller, Benjamin the romantic, even Benjamin the goofy stoner kid. I feel rather conflicted about the presence of a fragment of the len...more
AK
I really should revisit this book, as I only remember these two sentences, but it is perhaps my favorite quote of ever:

The treasure-dispensing giant in the green pine forest or the fairy who grants one wish - they appear to each of us at least once in a lifetime. But only Sunday's children remember the wish they made, and so it is only a few who recognize its fulfillment in their own lives.
Matt
I'm one of those people, and I'm sure I'm not the only one, who felt that Illuminations, the first book of Benjamin people traditionally read, was totally awesome, and not nearly as mindcrushingly difficult as I'd been led to expect-- so what did I do, but buy another book, the seemingly traditional second book by Benjamin people read (I think from here, if you're so inclined, you get the massive two volume Arcades Project that my weird office mate David had).

I didn't find this one nearly as int...more
Katrinka
There are certain essays in here ("Critique of Violence," for example) that are solid fives. Demetz's introduction, with some modification/caveats, and whether for good or ill, pinpoints a large part of what draws me to Benjamin: "his philosophy, sustained by utter loneliness, rather than by the concerns of the masses, particularly attracts those intellectuals who restlessly search for a better world and yet shy away from the grubbbier commitments of a practical kind."
Ellen
While self-exposure provides power, the promise of identity as well as the perverse pleasures of vertigo and exposure, it is also a means of re-collection. The past recaptured. Walter Benjamin qualifies his mode of collecting the past, referring to the process as one of gathering reminiscences rather than writing autobiography, which implies a chronological flow of time.

Benjamin’s recollection of life emerges as a form of respect, a reverence for pockets of time perfectly restored and finished....more
John
Sep 14, 2009 John is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I love cities. I love rambling, long walks. I love side streets and quaint, hidden coffee shops. So does Walter Benjamin. Therefore, I love Benjamin.

Although he was in many ways a tragic individual, and his brilliant life ended both tragically and ironically, still he brought new light to and ways of looking at everything around me: from the city streets that I walk down, to the way that I walk; from art, to friendship, to something as simple as the coffee shop that I choose to drink in and the...more
Gabriel Oak
I think the best essays are in _Illuminations_. Still, this collection has such gems as "Critique of Violence" and "Paris, Capital of the Nineteenth Century."
xDEAD ENDx
I actually enjoyed this more than the favored Illuminations collection. It gives greater insight into Benjamin's unconventional way of thinking and ties together some of his literary theory with his philosophy. "Critique of Violence" is, of course, exceptionally amazing. I also really enjoyed the pieces on Brecht, "Theologio-Political Fragment," "The Destructive Character," and "Paris, Capital of the 19th Centruy."
snobbess sphaeritalius
Currently reading his thoughts on translation, although not completely sure I am in agreement with the idea of the revelation of a universal in the relationship between languages as manifest through translation...but I'm not through yet...
Michael
This collection of essays includes his reflections on smoking Hashish, the depths of love and aging and his more marxist analyses of art and literature. Benjamin is always provactive and these essays are elegant and insightful.
C.S. Ward
Berlin Chronicle's got some great fit and starts of psychedelic memory dissection .My favorite part so far is when W.B. loses the diagram of his life. Two pages a day is about as many thoughts as I can hold; that's a good thing.
Jeff
Benjamin was targeted by the Nazis. He was on the run to escape Europe. It appeared hope was lost and he would not find passage so he committed suicide. The next day, the passage worked out.
Jared Colley
Another great collection of essays by the great German Marxist mystic. I believe this contains the essay, "The Author as Producer" - an amazing piece of literature on Bertolt Brecht.
Sasha
A complex thinker with fragmented, peripatetic, and often poetic literary criticism. Not an easy read, but sprinkled with surprising insight, as all of his writings are.
Ryan
I offer up a fifth star to the mythopoetic god of obscurity, that my syntactic contortions might be salved
Blair
More amazing shit from the most beautiful philosophical prose I know. Thank you, Nik.
Ben Kearvell
Benjamin begins with literary criticism and ends with an ontology completely his own.
Cheyenne
i read/wrote a 50 page paper on, "Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction". phew.
Robyn
my favorite benjamin, so readable
Selda
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Sep 30, 2014
David
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Sep 29, 2014
Jonathan Davidoff
Jonathan Davidoff marked it as to-read
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1860
Walter Bendix Schönflies Benjamin was a German-Jewish Marxist literary critic, essayist, translator, and philosopher. He was at times associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory and was also greatly inspired by the Marxism of Bertolt Brecht and Jewish mysticism as presented by Gershom Scholem.

As a sociological and cultural critic, Benjamin combined ideas drawn from historical materiali...more
More about Walter Benjamin...
Illuminations: Essays and Reflections The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, and Other Writings on Media The Arcades Project Berlin Childhood around 1900 One Way Street And Other Writings (The Verso Classics Series)

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“The destructive character knows only one watchword: make room; only one activity: clearing away ...
The destructive character is young and cheerful. For destroying rejuvenates in clearing away traces of our own age ...”
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“Truth resists being projected into the realm of knowledge.” 3 likes
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