‘Reading Walter Benjamin’ explores the persistence of absolute in Benjamin’s work by sketching-out the relationship between philosphy and theology apparent in his diverse writings, from the early youth-movement essays to the later books, essays and fragments. The book examines Benjamin from two main perspectives: a history-of-ideas approach situating Benjamin in relation to the new German-Jewish thinking at the turn of the twentieth-century, as well as the German youth movements, Surrealism and the ‘Georgekreis’; and a conceptual approach examining more critical issues in relation to Benjamin and Kant, modern aesthetics and narrative order. Chapters cover: ‘Kulturpessimismus’ and the new thinking; metaphysics of youth: Wyneken and ‘Rausch’; history: surreal Messianism; Goethe and the ‘Georgekreis’; Kant’s experience; casting the work of art; disrupting textual order; and exile and the time of crisis.
The book uses new translations of Benjamin’s essays, fragments and his ‘Arcades Project’, and makes substantial reference to previously untranslated material. Lane’s text allows the non-specialist entry into complex areas of critical theory, simultaneously offering original readings of Benjamin and twentieth-century arts and literature. —
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