A now legendary collection of seminal essays by one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th century.
The literary-philosophical works of Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) rank among the most quietly influential of the post-war era, though only since his death had Benjamin achieved the fame and critical currency outside his native Germany accorded him by a select few during his lifetime. Now he is widely held to have possessed one of the most acute and original minds of the Central European culture decimated by the Nazis. Illuminations contains his two most celebrated essays, 'The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction' and 'Theses on the Philosophy of History', as well as others on the art of translation, Kafka, storytelling, Baudelaire, Brecht's epic theatre, Proust and an anatomy of his own obsession, book collecting. The essay is Benjamin's domain; those collected in this now legendary volume offer the best possible access to his singular and significant achievement. In a stimulating introduction, Hannah Arendt reveals how Benjamin's life and work are a prism to his times, and identifies him as possessing the rare ability to think poetically.
“From the evidence of this book I would suggest that Benjamin was one of the great European writers of this century.”
Philip Toynbee, Observer
“He explained the modern with an authority that fifty years of unpredictable change have not vitiated.”
Frank Kermode, New York Review of Books
“Like Baudelaire, Benjamin brings the very new into shocking conjunction with the very old...He is in search of a surrealist history and politics, one which clings tenaciously to the fragment, the miniature, the stray citation, but which impacts these fragments one upon the other to politically explosive effect, like the Messiah who will transfigure the world completely by making minor adjustments to it.”
Terry Eagleton - The Ideology of the Aesthetic