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The Correspondence of Walter Benjamin and Gershom Scholem, 1932-1940 Paperback – March 1, 1992


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 314 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (March 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674174151
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674174153
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,907,131 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

An impassioned glimpse into the death throes of the German-Jewish tradition can be gleaned from the correspondence between Walter Benjamin, the great literary-social critic who lived in exile in Paris, and Gershom Scholem, scholar of the Jewish mystical tradition who migrated to Palestine in 1923. These close friends might seem totally dissimilar: Benjamin was a Marxist, comrade of Brecht, Scholem a Zionist who found in the Kabbalah the seeds for an anarchist spiritual renewal of Judaism. Yet both exiles sought divine sparks in profound texts and the ruptures of history. Their dialogue on Kafka is instructive: for Benjamin, the Czech writer was a prophet of planetary annihilation, while Scholem read Kafka as a latter-day Jewish gnostic commentator on divine judgment. The letters end in early 1940, a few months before Benjamin fled to the Spanish border and committed suicide.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
Walter Benjamin and G. Scholem are two of the most important thinkers of this century. And in this book we can listen to their voices and thoughts. In my opinion the most interesting part of the book are the letters related to Franz Kafka. In fact, I think the way they understand and illustrate Kafka is still unsurpassed, and just for that is really worth to read this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By George Goldberg on October 16, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Walter Benjamin was considered by many important people one of the greatest intellectuals of the 20th century. Very little he wrote is available in any American public library and few people today, no matter how educated, can tell you what he is famous for. But in the 1920s and 1930s, Benjamin was a thinker of the first order and famous even beyond the German-speaking world.

So one would expect that these letters, between Benjamin and the leading scholar of Jewish mysticism, Gershom Scholem, would offer a feast of intellectual delicacies. Unfortunately, the main subject of Benjamin's letters is his dire circumstances even before the Nazis came to power in Germany. For all his acknowledged brilliance, Benjamin was so poor he often didn't have enough to eat. After the Nazis promulgated their anti-Jewish laws, he also had no place to live. He could have followed Scholem to Palestine, he could have followed Brecht to Denmark, he could have followed the path of many other German Jews to Australia and California and Cuba. Instead, he lived in the most appalling conditions in Spain and Paris and ultimately got stuck on the Spanish-Portuguese border where he killed himself.

Unbearably sad.
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