Walter Benjamin

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of the most celebrated thinkers of the twentieth century. Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) was a German Jewish philosopher, critic, historian, an investigator of culture, a maker of radio programmes and more. Notably, in his Arcades Project, he looked into the past of Paris to understand the modern age and, in The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, examined how the new media of film and photography enabled art to be politicised, and politics to become a form of art. The rise of the Nazis in Germany forced him into exile, and he worked in Paris in dread of what was to come; when his escape from France in 1940 was blocked at the Spanish border, he took his own life.

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  • Esther Leslie 2 episodes
    Professor of Political Aesthetics at Birkbeck, University of London
  • Kevin McLaughlin No other episodes
    Dean of the Faculty and Professor of English, Comparative Literature and German Studies at Brown University
  • Carolin Duttlinger No other episodes
    Professor of German Literature and Culture at the University of Oxford

Reading list

  • Aesthetics and Politics
    T.W. Adorno et al. (Verso, 2020) Google Books →
  • The Storyteller: Tales out of Loneliness
    Walter Benjamin (Verso, 2016) Google Books →
  • The Arcades Project
    Walter Benjamin (trans. Howard Eiland and Kevin McLaughlin) (Harvard University Press, 1999) Google Books →
  • Illuminations: Essays and Reflections
    Walter Benjamin (trans. Harry Zohn) (Schocken, 2007) Google Books →
  • Radio Benjamin
    Walter Benjamin (ed. Lecia Rosenthal) (Verso, 2014) Google Books →
  • One-Way Street and Other Writings
    Walter Benjamin (Penguin, 2009) Google Books →
  • Walter Benjamin: The Aura of Photography
    Carolin Duttlinger (_Poetics Today_, 29, 2008)
  • Walter Benjamin: A Critical Life
    Howard Eiland and Michael W. Jennings (Harvard University Press, 2016) Google Books →
  • Time of the Magicians: The Invention of Modern Thought, 1919-29
    Wolfram Eilenberger (trans. Shaun Whiteside) (Penguin, 2021) Google Books →
  • The Cambridge Introduction to Walter Benjamin
    David S. Ferris (Cambridge University Press, 2008) Google Books →
  • Walter Benjamin - Critical Lives
    Esther Leslie (Reaktion, 2007) Google Books →
  • Walter Benjamin's Archive: Images, Texts, Signs
    Ursula Marx, Gudrun Schwarz, Michael Schwarz, Erdmut Wizisla (Verso, 2015)

Related episodes

Programme ID: m0014710

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Auto-category: 193 (German and Austrian philosophy)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, for one of the most celebrated thinkers of the 20th century, Walter Benjamin is hard to categorise.