Walter Benjamin’s amazing archive

Walter Benjamin’s Archive: Images, Texts, Signs (2007).

Translated by Esther Leslie; edited by Ursula Marx, Gudrun Schwartz, Michael Schwartz, Erdmut Wizisla. I took my time with this wonderful book, reading it in bits & pieces for about a year, enjoying the way it drew me in to Benjamin’s  writing, his very personal archive fever. Its 13 chapters contain short intros by the various editors plus photos of Benjamin’s notebooks, papers, toys, letters, as well as his various postcards & photos, all part of his voluminous & scattered archive, something he had his friends collect & prepare throughout his life, & which has become an important resource for all scholar & readers of his work. His writing, so small & packed into the pages of his notebooks, as well as his correspondence & various mss, is a continuous & extraordinarily wide-ranging example of a continually active mind at work. Part of the pleasure of this book is seeing him at work & play, &, in the translations of the written bits, the beginnings of many of his important essays & reviews. So, it’s a remarkable, if only partial, glimpse of one of the most active & sophisticated minds of the 20th century, as it entered into a wide variety of explorations.

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