Walter Benjamin

Walter Benjamin (1892–1940) was a German-Jewish Marxist literary critic, essayist, translator and philosopher. He was associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory and is the author of Illuminations, The Arcades Project, and The Origin of German Tragic Drama. In 1940, he was in Spain, fleeing the Nazis and en route to the United States, when Franco’s government cancelled his visa. Expecting repatriation, he took his own life.

Blog

  • Resisting Left Melancholia

    Published in 2000, Without Guarantees — edited by Paul Gilroy, Lawrence Grossberg, and Angela McRobbie — brings together more than 30 essays inspired by, or written in honor of, the great cultural theorist Stuart Hall, who died three years ago this week. "It is appropriate," the editors write in their preface: 

    given the spirit of Stuart's own commitments that this volume has a second, subsidiary purpose. Cultural studies have been subjected to much abuse lately and the fragile institutional initiatives with which those words are entangled are now under great and growing pressure. In these circumstances it seemed right to try to make this public gift a modest interventionist act in its own right. Here then are some implicit and explicit reflections on what cultural studies can be and what it might become. 


    Below, we present one of the essays collected in the volume: Wendy Brown's now classic reflection on Hall and the condition that Walter Benjamin termed "left melancholia." First published in
    boundary 2 in 1999, Brown's essay spurred a debate that has continued through the present day. 

     

    via Stuart Hall Foundation

    “In every era the attempt must be made anew to wrest tradition away from a conformism that is about to overpower it. ... only that historian will have the gift of fanning the spark of hope in the past who is firmly convinced that even the dead will not be safe from the enemy if he wins.”1 Walter Benjamin

    It has become commonplace to lament the current beleaguered and disoriented condition of the Left. Stuart Hall is among the few who have tried to diagnose the sources and dynamics of this condition. From the earliest days of the rise of the Thatcher-Reagan-Gingrich Right in Europe and North America, Hall insisted that the “crisis of the Left” in the late twentieth century was due neither to internal divisions in the activist or academic Left nor to the clever rhetoric or funding schemes of the Right. Rather, he charged, this ascendency was consequent to the Left's own failure to apprehend the character of the age, and to develop a political critique and a moral-political vision appropriate to this character.

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  • Acts of Dissent Through History

    The Verso Book of Dissent: Revolutionary Words from Three Millennia of Rebellion and Resistance is a compendium of revolt and resistance throughout the ages, updated to include resistance to war and economic oppression from Beijing and Cairo to Moscow and New York City.

    To celebrate the release of the new edition - 50% off at the moment as part of our end-of-year sale
    we've present a selection of key moments of dissent from the book.


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  • Antiquarian and Revolutionary: Walter Benjamin

    Leading radical writer on art, John Berger, celebrates his ninetieth birthday this week. We're proud to have published many of his books, including the just-published Landscapes: John Berger on Art,a companion volume to Portraits: John Berger on Artists, both edited by Tom Overton. We have 40% off all the books on our John Berger bookshelf until Sunday 6th November to celebrate!

    In 'Antiquarian and Revolutionary: Walter Benjamin,' excerpted from Landscapes, Berger presents his singular engagement with one of his greatest enduring influences, the eclectic German critic and thinker Walter Benjamin. Widely considered to be the popularizer of the Benjamin's theories, Berger's seminal TV series Ways of Seeing made clear its relationship to Benjamin's influential 1935 essay 'The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction'.


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Books

  • One-way-street-front-1050-max_103

    One-Way Street

    A collection of aphorisms and townscapes, esoteric meditation and reminiscences of childhood, and reflections on language, psychology, aesthetics and politics.

    4 posts

  • 9781859844182-max_103

    Understanding Brecht

    The relationship between philosopher-critic Walter Benjamin and playwright-poet Bertolt Brecht was both a lasting friendship and a powerful...

    6 posts