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Introducing Walter Benjamin

(Graphic Guides)

3.42  ·  Rating details ·  118 ratings  ·  17 reviews
This book follows the life and work of this prominent critical theorist, tracing his influence on modern aesthetics and cultural history as well as his particular focus on the tension between Marxism and Zionism, and between word and image in modern art.
Paperback, 176 pages
Published October 29th 1996 by Totem Books (first published March 16th 1994)
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3.42  · 
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 ·  118 ratings  ·  17 reviews


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Lance Eaton
If you're not familiar with the Graphic Guides (also known as Introducing...), then you may be in for a treat. They often take complex people or theory and break it down into meaningful chunks using a mixture of images, quotes, and text. Caygill's treatment of Walter Benjamin was enjoyable if not sometimes a big challenging. Benjamin was a strange mixture of historian, art critic, and wandering scholar. Though for me, I always knew him for his most popular work, "The Work of Art in the Age of Me ...more
Alexandra Niţă
Apr 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Prima dată când am trăit experiența istorică a altcuiva atât de clar, a.k.a bântuiala timpului și raportarea la prezent-trecut și viitor atât de complex descrisă. Impresionat cum Walter Benjamin a tot extras// căutat în viața de zi cu zi înțelesuri. Oricum, rămâne de cercetat...
Nathan
Dec 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
I hastily signed up to write a final paper for a course on critical theory, where we looked at Walter Benjamin's theses on history. After doing some research, I realized my eyes were bigger than my stomach...but I had already begun, and did not want this to be another unrealized, fragmentary project. So I go to the used bookstore and find tucked away in the philosophy section this little text. Initially I thought nothing of it, but when I saw the name I took a look. I had heard of the 'introduci ...more
José Oroño
Feb 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Notes and highlights:

"Contemporary releveance", as Benjamin announced in his plan for the abortive journal, Angelus Novus, in 1922. "... according to a legend in the Talmud, the angels –who are born anew every instant in countless numbers – are created in order to perish and to vanish into the void, once they have sung their hymn in the presence of God."

What does Benjamin mean by "aura"? It refers to the customary historical role played by works of art – their "ritual function" – in the legitima
...more
Hatem Mohy El-Dien
التنوع والثراء الموجود في اسهامات وآراء بنيامين، كفيلة انها تتكتب في كتاب اكبر من كونه مقدمة، وده اخل بشكل كبير بالمراد من المقدمة نفسها وإن كنت كسبت حب لبنيامين من ناحية وتقدير لما كان واضح من اسهاماته، وخجل كبيير من جهلي الكبير باهم النظريات النقدية، في الأدب. لكن تبقى المقدمة شيء مختزل للغاية، ومخل للغاية في مادته العلمية، وإن كان التقديم فائدته فقط حصر النقاط المهمة فقط.
حقيقة لا اعلم ما هي وجهة نظر القائمين على سلسلة أقدم لك! لإن السلسلة ليست تقديم في حقيقة الأمر للقارئ العادي، وإنما مينافيس
...more
Kerry Pickens
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2019
Walter Benjamin was a ner-do-well Jewish philosopher who studied in Germany during the 1930s until he was forced to flee to Paris. Walter dabbled in both Marxism and the Kabbalah. He believed art should have a political message but was out done by his contemporaries Charlie Chaplain and Bernolt Brecht. Benjamin eventually escaped the Nazis invasion by traveling to Spain, but was unable to get a letter of transit to leave Spain and committed suicide.
it is syd
As an introductory text I found this lacking? I dont feel any more like I understand Benjamin, although I'm given to understanding he's difficult to summarise. There's also a presupposition of knowledge in a few places, references to Kant and Weber that I think assume familiarity with their writings which, er, I do not have.

There's quite a few Further Reading suggestions though and I'm happy to go back and familiarise myself with the aforementioned, but, eh. Not what I wanted, I suppose!
Lily
Dec 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
I have a post humous crush on Walter Benjamin. He is such an amazing brain, the wild connecting fibers and threads. As a fellow book collector and gazer of surrealism, I always feel like this guy has my number, good or bad. I loved the biographical details of passing off his papers to Bataille (as a library worker?) before fleeing Nazi occupied France.
Scotty
Jan 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophical
i'd read his essay about art in the age of mechanical reproduction like so many others, but never really knew where to go from there. the arcades project? (jesus what a brick, i'm not leaping into that blind...) this book gave me some ideas how to proceed and then some. this is a dense little primer.
Daniel Gutiérrez Reyes
Un gran índice de la obra de Benjamin.

En las ruinas de grandes edificios, la idea del plan se delata con más fuerza que en las de edifcios de menor importancia, aun cuando estén bien conservados.
Islam
Jul 06, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
قرأت أعداد كتيرة م السلسلة دي، ورغم رداءة الإخراج وضعف المحتوى وسوء الترجمة، لكن الكتابين عن كافكا وفالتر بنيامين أفضلهم، وآخر كتاب كنت بقرأ فيه وما خلصتوش، هوا الكتاب عن ستيفن هوكينج. طبعا الترجمة داخل نطاق المواضيع الأدبية والفسفية سيئة فما بالك بالعلمية
Abdelrahman Hussein
كتاب جيد كمدخل بسيط ببعضاً من العمومية عن فلسفة فالتر بينامين ، يشبه إلي حد ما فيلم وثائقي عن حياة هذا المفكر الذي أحدث جدلاً واسع النطاق في النصف الأول من القرن العشرين وتحديداً في مدرسة فرانكفورت النقدية ، أخيراً الكتاب بسيط كعادة سلسلة أقدم لك ، والترجمة مرضية جداً.
Maayan K
Jun 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
An agreeable and diverting way to learn about the complex array of work Benjamin produced in his tragically shortened life. The cartoon illustrations give the philosophical material a light touch, which is very necessary for the likes of me to stick with it. Which I did. I learned many things from the book about his personal life and intellectual and spiritual proclivities. An overall eclectic personality that's easy to admire and even feel affection for, unlike so many critics and philosophers. ...more
xDEAD ENDx
Despite being intimately associated with Benjamin, I found this guide to be useful in showing some of the political/philosophical implications of Benjamin's "aesthetic" writings. Now I'm much more motivated to read The Origin of German Tragic Drama, among other pieces.

The one shortcoming of this book is that it does little to flesh out (even in an introductory way) the anarchic traits within Benjamin's more straightforwardly political works.
Julia
Dec 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Something irreplaceable in European culture died with Walter Benjamin. Not the brilliance of a mind only, but a unique spirit, the passionate rescuer of a history in danger of extinction."

This was my first time reading any of the "Introducing" series and I was surprised by the amount of detail they were able to fit into this little book. It covered many aspics of Benjamin's influences on his life and work. I look forward to reading more books from this series.
Meaghan
May 21, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-review
Please read my full post here: http://mwgerard.com/books-for-september/
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