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Walter Benjamin was born on July 15, 1892 to a German-Jewish family in Berlin. He was educated at the Albert Ludwig University in Freiburg and the Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin. An essay on Goethe's Elective Affinities published in 1924 earned him swift recognition but he struggled to find a position to support himself and build on its success. When the Nazis came to power in 1933, Benjamin fled to Paris and became a prominent critic of Hitler's regime. During this period he worked on his immense study of 19th century Parisian life known as The Arcades Project (which was posthumously published in unfinished form).Following the Nazi invasion of France Benjamin attempted to escape to the United States where a visa had been obtained for him.Trying to get through to neutral Portugal, Benjamin was prevented from crossing the Spanish border and committed suicide on September 27 1940. Amit Chaudhuri is a novelist, poet, critic and musician.