- Benjamin, Walter
died Sept. 26, 1940, near Port-Bou, SpainGerman literary critic.Born into a prosperous Jewish family, Benjamin studied philosophy and worked as a literary critic and translator in Berlin from 1920 until 1933, when he fled to France to avoid persecution. The Nazi takeover of France led him to flee again in 1940; he committed suicide at the Spanish border on hearing that he would be turned over to the Gestapo. Posthumous publication of his essays has won him a reputation as the leading German literary critic of the first half of the 20th century; he was also one of the first serious writers about film and photography. His independence and originality are evident in the essays collected in Illuminations (1961) and Reflections (1979). His writings on art reflect his reading of Karl Marx and his friendships with Bertolt Brecht and Theodor Adorno.
* * *▪ German literary criticborn July 15, 1892, Berlin, Ger.died Sept. 27?, 1940, near Port-Bou, Spainman of letters and aesthetician, now considered to have been the most important German literary critic in the first half of the 20th century.Born into a prosperous Jewish family, Benjamin studied philosophy in Berlin, Freiburg im Breisgau, Munich, and Bern. He settled in Berlin in 1920 and worked thereafter as a literary critic and translator. His halfhearted pursuit of an academic career was cut short when the University of Frankfurt rejected his brilliant but unconventional doctoral thesis, Ursprung des deutschen Trauerspiels (1928; The Origin of German Tragic Drama). Benjamin eventually settled in Paris after leaving Germany in 1933 upon the Nazis' rise to power. He continued to write essays and reviews for literary journals, but upon the fall of France to the Germans in 1940 he fled southward with the hope of escaping to the United States via Spain. Informed by the chief of police at the town of Port-Bou on the Franco-Spanish border that he would be turned over to the Gestapo, Benjamin committed suicide.The posthumous publication of Benjamin's prolific output significantly increased his reputation in the later 20th century. The essays containing his philosophical reflections on literature are written in a dense and concentrated style that contains a strong poetic strain. He mixes social criticism and linguistic analysis with historical nostalgia while communicating an underlying sense of pathos and pessimism. The metaphysical quality of his early critical thought gave way to a Marxist inclination in the 1930s. Benjamin's pronounced intellectual independence and originality are evident in the extended essay Goethes Wahlverwandtschaften (1924–25; “Goethe's Elective Affinities”) and in the essays posthumously collected in Illuminationen (1961; Illuminations), including "Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit" (1936; “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”).Additional ReadingJulian Roberts, Walter Benjamin (1982); Momme Brodersen, Walter Benjamin, trans. from German (1996); Bernd Witte, Walter Benjamin: An Intellectual Biography, trans. from German (1991); Graeme Gilloch, Walter Benjamin: Critical Constellations (2002); Richard J. Lane, Reading Walter Benjamin (2005).
* * *
Look at other dictionaries:
BENJAMIN, WALTER — (1892–1940), German philosopher and literary critic. Born in Berlin, Benjamin attended Haubinda, a country educational establishment, where he met the radical school reformer Gustav Wyneken. From 1910 to 1914 Benjamin took an active part in the… … Encyclopedia of Judaism
Benjamin, Walter — (1892–1940) Benjamin has been described as “possibly the most important cultural theorist within the Marxist tradition.” Closely associated with Bertolt Brecht and the Frankfurt School he produced a range of works on culture, aesthetics, drama … Historical dictionary of Marxism
Benjamin, Walter — (1892 1940) A literary critic associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory in the 1930s, taken up by sociologists of literature in the 1970s, mainly because of his analysis of the material aspects of literary production (see, Walter… … Dictionary of sociology
Benjamin, Walter — (1892–1940) A leading literary critic and member of the Frankfurt school . Benjamin is remembered for his analyses of the material conditions governing literary and artistic production … Philosophy dictionary
Benjamin, Walter — (1892 1940) intellectual; a Frankfurt School* as sociate, remembered for the aphorism Every monument to civilization is also a monument to barbarism. Born to a wealthy Jewish home in Berlin,* he volunteered for the army in World War I.… … Historical dictionary of Weimar Republik
Benjamin, Walter — ► (1892 1940) Filósofo alemán de origen judío. Estableció su concepción de la crítica en El concepto de la crítica de arte en el romanticismo alemán (1920). * * * (15 jul. 1892, Berlín, Alemania–26 sep. 1940, cerca de Port Bou, España). Crítico… … Enciclopedia Universal
Benjamin, Walter — (1892 1940) German philos opher. Born in Berlin, he worked as a critic, translator and reviewer. In 1924 he was involved with a Latvian actress whose radical communism inspired him. When Hitler came to power, he went to the Baleric Isles and… … Dictionary of Jewish Biography
Benjamin, Walter — See Marxism ( … History of philosophy
Benjamin, Walter — см. Беньямин, Вальтер … Энциклопедический словарь экспрессионизма
Benjamin, Walter — (1892 1940) see clones + cloning , culture , real and simulation … The Baudrillard dictionary