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Begun in Poveromo, Italy, in 1932, and extensively revised in 1938, "Berlin Childhood around 1900" remained unpublished during Walter Benjamin's lifetime, one of his 'large-scale defeats'. Now translated into English for the first time in book form, on the basis of the recently discovered 'final version' that contains the author's own arrangement of a suite of luminous vignettes, it can be more widely appreciated as one of the masterpieces of 20th Century prose writing. Not an autobiography in the customary sense, Benjamin's recollection of his childhood in an upper-middle-class Jewish home in Berlin's West End at the turn of the century becomes an occasion for unified 'expeditions into the depths of memory'. In this diagram of his life, Benjamin focuses not on persons or events but on places and things, all seen from the perspective of a child - a collector, flaneur, and allegorist in one. This book is also one of Benjamin's great city texts, bringing to life the cocoon of his childhood - the parks, streets, schoolrooms, and interiors of an emerging metropolis. It reads the city as palimpsest and labyrinth, revealing unexpected lyricism in the heart of the familiar. As an added gem, a preface by Howard Eiland discusses the genesis and structure of the work, which marks the culmination of Benjamin's attempt to do philosophy concretely.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780674022225
ISBN-10: 067402222X
Format: Paperback
(190mm x 133mm x 14mm)
Pages: 208
Imprint: The Belknap Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publish Date: 2-May-2006
Country of Publication: United States


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Author Biography - Walter Benjamin

Peter Szondi, one of the greatest critics of post - World War II Germany, was professor at Berlin and Zurich until his suicide. Howard Eiland is Lecturer in Literature at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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