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review 2014-10-11 18:50
Radio Benjamin by Walter Benjamin (edited by Lecia Rosenthal)
Radio Benjamin - Walter Benjamin,Lecia Rosenthal,Jonathan Lutes

Better known for his writings on photography and aesthetic theory - in particular, how technologies of reproduction influence the way we experience art - Walter Benjamin is less known for his contributions to radio, both as producer and essayist. Radio Benjamin is the first book in English entirely dedicated to Benjamin’s radio works: plays, programs for children, lectures and readings, as well as works that were prepared but not broadcast.

Most of the initial plays for children are about Berlin, in one way or another, with different themes, such as history, books, toys and language, surfacing in connection. Unfortunately, in my opinion, they are only interesting as historical curiosities. The book gets better when Benjamin muses about remediation on the radio. The essay Reflections on Radio was absorbing and insightful. However, the plays at the end are a bit drawn-out and, to be honest, much less interesting than their critical review in the introduction. 

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that this is a must read for any Benjamin aficionado, but I’m not sure how interesting these essays would be for everyone else. Benjamin himself referred to these works as “lesser”, more relevant for their commercial value than anything else. I would say that they have become relevant for their historical value and as context to the rest of Benjamin’s work. So if you have never read it, I would advise you to start somewhere else.


Note: I got this book for review purposes through NetGalley.

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text 2013-10-24 10:47
Combining Shelves
Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader - Anne Fadiman
Illuminations: Essays and Reflections - Walter Benjamin,Hannah Arendt,Leon Wieseltier,Harry Zohn
The Maltese Falcon - Dashiell Hammett
Wuthering Heights - Emily Brontë
Conquest: The English Kingdom of France in the Hundred Years War - Juliet Barker

Read this awesome post by Reading Jane Austen in Boston


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review 2013-04-28 00:00
Walter Benjamin the Story of a Friend - Gershom Scholem Enjoyed this book even within my difficulty in understanding and my lack of experience and knowledge regarding Judaism and the European experience between the world wars and the journey up to the beginning of another war to end all wars. Gershom Scholem was an engaging writer who did have an understanding few others may have regarding the historical events happening in his, and Benjamin's, lifetime. I believe after reading this book that Gershom was fair in his assessments and the relationship he had with Walter Benjamin. This is a beautiful edition (1981) and I am glad I read it.
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review 2009-06-06 00:00
Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction
Work of Art in the Age/Mechanical Reprod (Great Ideas) - Walter Benjamin

I bought this book because my Aesthetics professor mentioned it in class. The first thing I noticed is that the cover is absolutely brilliant. As for the book itself, it consists of an essay about how the reproducibility of art changes the way we perceive it and how it relates to the mass media society. This is a classic essay but in my opinion it's still a great read today.


The book also includes two more essays, one on Kafka and another on Proust, which I found very interesting and insightful, albeit unexpected considering the book's title. I did find a few connections between these essays and the one on the mechanical reproduction of art, but not many. It's possible that I'm missing something, and this is definitely a book that I will re-read some time in the future.

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review 2007-05-31 00:00
Berlin Childhood around 1900 - Walter Benjamin,Howard Eiland I read this book a while ago, and the further away from it I get, the more it seems to grip my imagination, it's so rich and evocative. I found a Sontag quote about Benjamin that explains exactly the feeling conveyed by his writing. She says each sentence "had to say everything, before the inward gaze of total concentration dissolved the subject before his eyes." Because of that concentration, it can be a challenging reading experience, challenging in a way we don't often encounter in contemporary literature, but so definitely worth the effort.
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