Paris and Berlin: On City Streets and Loggias
This review article probes a conceptual duality that can be recognized as central to two of Benjamin’s essays on cities: his essay ‘Paris, the Capital of the Nineteenth Century (Exposé of 1935),’ and his autobiographical text Berlin Childhood around 1900. On the one hand, Benjamin renders numerous analyses and descriptions of buildings and experiences that present themselves as absolute and internally unified, giving the impression of being autonomous and immutable. On the other hand, Benjamin interrogates objects and perceptions that present themselves as transient and in flux and are therefore experienced as contingent and incomplete. These latter objects and perceptions derive their significance from something that is inevitably external.
Walter Benjamin, Briefe 2 (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1978
Walter Benjamin, ‘Little History of Photography’ in Walter Benjamin. Selected Writings. Vol. 2, ed. Howard Eiland and Michael W. Jennings (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 1999)
Walter Benjamin, Berlin Childhood around 1900, transl. Howard Eiland (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 2006
Walter Benjamin, ‘On the Concept of History’ in Walter Benjamin. Selected Writings. Vol. 4
Gilles Deleuze, Proust and Signs, trans. Richard Howard (New York and London: Continuum, 2000)
Eli Friedlander, Walter Benjamin. A Philosophical Portrait (Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press, 2012)
W. G. Sebald, Austerlitz, trans. Anthea Bell (New York: Random House, 2001)
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