Benjamin, Walter German, — Walter Benjamin is one of the central essayists of the GermanJewish intellectual tradition. Born and raised in Berlin in a bourgeois household representing both stability and confinement, Benjamin grew into a critic of literature, Western philosophy, and contemporary European culture.
He owned a number of investments in Berlin, including ice skating rinks. Through his mother, his great-uncle was the classical archaeologist Gustav Hirschfeld. Walter Benjamin was a boy of fragile health and so in the family sent him to Hermann-Lietz-Schule Haubinda, a boarding school in the Thuringian countryside, for two years; inhaving returned to Berlin, he resumed his schooling at the Kaiser Friedrich School.
Here Benjamin had his first exposure to the ideas of Zionismwhich had not been part of his liberal upbringing. This exposure gave him occasion to formulate his own ideas about the meaning of Judaism.
Benjamin distanced himself from political and nationalist Zionism, instead developing in his own thinking what he called a kind of "cultural Zionism"—an attitude which recognized and promoted Judaism and Jewish values.
In Benjamin's formulation his Jewishness meant a commitment to the furtherance of European culture. Benjamin expressed "My life experience led me to this insight: For Judaism is to me in no sense an end in itself, but the most distinguished bearer and representative of the spiritual.
Inat the outbreak of the First World War —Benjamin began faithfully translating the works of the 19th-century French poet Charles Baudelaire — The next year,he moved to Munich, and continued his schooling at the University of Munichwhere he met Rainer Maria Rilke and Gershom Scholem ; the latter became a friend.
They had a son, Stefan Rafael — In Benjamin earned his Ph. Later, unable to support himself and family, he returned to Berlin and resided with his parents. At this time Benjamin first became socially acquainted with Leo Straussand Benjamin would remain an admirer of Strauss and of his work throughout his life.
Meanwhile, the inflation in the Weimar Republic consequent to the First World War made it difficult for the father Emil Benjamin to continue supporting his son's family. At the end of his best friend Gershom Scholem immigrated to Palestine, a country under the British Mandate of Palestine ; despite repeated invitations, he failed to persuade Benjamin and family to leave the Continent for the Middle East.
Later that year Benjamin and Ernst Bloch resided on the Italian island of Capri ; Benjamin wrote Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspiels The Origin of German Tragic Dramaas a habilitation dissertation meant to qualify him as a tenured university professor in Germany.
A year later, inBenjamin withdrew The Origin of German Tragic Drama as his possible qualification for the habilitation teaching credential at the University of Frankfurt at Frankfurt am Main, fearing its possible rejection;  he was not to be an academic instructor.
The same year, he saw Gershom Scholem in Berlin, for the last time, and considered emigrating from Continental Europe Germany to Palestine. In that time, he also briefly embarked upon an academic career, as an instructor at the University of Heidelberg.
Induring the turmoil preceding Adolf Hitler 's assumption of the office of Chancellor of Germany, Walter Benjamin left Germany for the Spanish island of Ibiza for some months; he then moved to Nicewhere he considered killing himself. Perceiving the socio-political and cultural significance of the Reichstag fire 27 February as the de facto Nazi assumption of full power in Germany, then manifest with the subsequent persecution of the Jewshe moved to Paris, but, before doing so, he sought shelter in Svendborgat Bertolt Brecht's house, and at Sanremowhere his ex-wife Dora lived.
As he ran out of money, Benjamin collaborated with Max Horkheimerand received funds from the Institute for Social Research, later going permanently into exile.
It was a critique of the authenticity of mass-produced art; he wrote that a mechanically produced copy of an artwork can be taken somewhere where the original could never have gone, arguing that the presence of the original is "prerequisite to the concept of authenticity".
In he paid a last visit to Bertolt Brecht, who was exiled to Denmark. While the Wehrmacht was pushing back the French Armyon 13 June Benjamin and his sister fled Paris to the town of Lourdesjust a day before the Germans entered the capital with orders to arrest him at his flat.
In eluding the GestapoBenjamin planned to travel to the US from neutral Portugal, which he expected to reach via Francoist Spainthen ostensibly a neutral country. Walter Benjamin's grave in Portbou. The Franco government had cancelled all transit visas and ordered the Spanish police to return such persons to France, including the Jewish refugee group Benjamin had joined.
They tried to cross the border on 25 Septemberbut were told by the Spanish police that they would be deported back to France the next day, which would have destroyed Benjamin's plans to travel to the United States.
Expecting repatriation to Nazi hands, Walter Benjamin killed himself with an overdose of morphine tablets that night, while staying in the Hotel de Francia; the official Portbou register records 26 September as the official date of death.
Despite his suicide, Benjamin was buried in the consecrated section of a Roman Catholic cemetery. The others in his party were allowed passage the next day maybe because Benjamin's suicide shocked Spanish officialsand safely reached Lisbon on 30 September.
Hannah Arendtwho crossed the French-Spanish border at Portbou a few months later, passed the manuscript of Theses to Adorno. Another completed manuscript, which Benjamin had carried in his suitcase, disappeared after his death and has not been recovered. Some critics speculate that it was his Arcades Project in a final form; this is very unlikely as the author's plans for the work had changed in the wake of Adorno's criticisms inand it seems clear that the work was flowing over its containing limits in his last years.
Thought[ edit ] Paul Klee 's painting Angelus Novuswhich Benjamin compared to "the angel of history" Walter Benjamin corresponded much with Theodor Adorno and Bertolt Brechtand was occasionally funded by the Frankfurt School under the direction of Adorno and Horkheimereven from their New York City residence.
The competing influences—Brecht's Marxism, Adorno's critical theoryGerschom Scholem's Jewish mysticism—were central to his work, although their philosophic differences remained unresolved. Moreover, the critic Paul de Man argued that the intellectual range of Benjamin's writings flows dynamically among those three intellectual traditions, deriving a critique via juxtaposition; the exemplary synthesis is Theses on the Philosophy of History.The Philosophy of Walter Benjamin Introduction: The German Jewish philosopher and cultural critic Walter Benjamin () is widely acknowledged as the thinker whose writings and thoughts are essential to our understanding of modernity.
(Walter Benjamin, "Goethes Wahlverwandtschaften," pg. ) Walter Benjamin wrote much about the social condition of the writer.
For him, however, he always "remains the . Early life and education. Benjamin and his younger siblings, Georg (–) and Dora (–), were born to a wealthy business family of assimilated Ashkenazi Jews in the Berlin of the German Empire (–).
The patriarch of Walter Benjamin's family, Emil Benjamin, was a banker in Paris who relocated from France to Germany, where he worked as an antiques trader in Berlin; he.
What are the best tips or hacks for writing short stories? Walter Benjamin. Walter Benjamin (), a German philosopher and critic, published widely on such topics as technology, language, literature, the arts, and society. He left a large body of mostly unfinished work that has been slowly published in his native country.
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