Benjamin, Walter

   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 and literature that has had an enduring influence. Born in Berlin, Germany, Benjamin studied philosophy at Freiberg University and language at Munich, before writing his doctoral thesis on the Origin of German Tragic Drama. Partly as a result of the rejection of his thesis by Frankfurt University, Benjamin turned away from academic life and earned a living as a journalist and art critic. He also wrote a number of pieces for the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research journal. Benjamin traveled extensively, particularly after leaving Berlin when the Nazis came to power, and lived for a time in Paris, ending his days in Port Bou, Spain. Significant in his travels was a trip to Moscow in 1926–27 that stimulated an already existing interest in Soviet cultural life and prompted a number of articles on the topic. Benjamin’s most important writings include his Origin of German Tragic Drama (1925), The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (1936), Charles Baudelaire: A Lyric Poet in the Era of High Capitalism (1938), Illuminations (1968), and Theses on the Philosophy of History (1940). The main idea expressed in these works is that ideas and culture have no autonomous existence or history, but are rooted in and conditioned by the prevailing technology and class background. He also explored themes of liberation, the centrality of human action and history in understanding art and culture, and Karl Marx’s notion of fetishism of the commodity. Other themes of religious mysticism, utopianism and pessimism, particularly in his last work, Theses on the Philosophy of History, suggest a departure from Marxist doctrines, and leave an ambiguous, inconsistent, but nevertheless profound legacy.

Historical dictionary of Marxism. . 2014.

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 — born July 15, 1892, Berlin, Ger. died Sept. 26, 1940, near Port Bou, Spain German 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,… …   Universalium

  • 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

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