A selection of works from one of the most original cultural critics of the twentieth century—as selected by Hannah Arendt and including a classic essay of her own about Walter Benjamin’s life and philosophy.¶ “There has been no more original, no more serious critic and reader in our time.”—George Steiner ¶ An icon of criticism, Walter Benjamin was renowned for his insights on art, literature, and philosophy. This volume includes his views on Kafka, with whom he felt a close personal affinity; his studies on Baudelaire and Proust; and his essays on Leskov and on Brecht’s epic theater. Illuminations includes two of Benjamin’s best-known, deeply enlightening essays, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” and “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” as well as Hannah Arendt’s own essay about her subject’s life as a German-born Jew during a dark era.
WALTER BENJAMIN (1892–1940) was a German-Jewish Marxist literary critic, essayist, translator, and philosopher. He was at times associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory and was also greatly inspired by the Marxism of Bertolt Brecht and Jewish mysticism as presented by Gershom Scholem.