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Walter Benjamin


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About the Author

Esther Leslie is Professor of Political Aesthetics in the School of English and Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London. She is the author of Walter Benjamin: Overpowering Conformism (2000), Hollywood Flatlands: Animation, Critical Theory and the Avant Garde (2002), and Synthetic Worlds: Nature, Art and the Chemical Industry (Reaktion Books, 2005).


... a brilliant digest of Benjamin's life ... It draws on a mass of texts, including his accounts of a privileged Berlin upbringing and travel diaries. [Leslie] presents a definitive portrait of Benjamin the materialist, lingers on his obsession with children's books, and makes excellent use of German sources to detail his movements and finances. The Independent Leslie has inhaled the author of The Arcades Project as Kazin inhaled Blake. Benjamin, in fact, seems more coherent in her page than in his own ... It is as if, by evoking the tactile vitality of all that he touched with his thought, Leslie brings him back alive and kicking from the last border he crossed. Argue if you wish with his idea of "aura," his "hierarchies of meaning," or whether mechanical reproduction is good for the masses. But the mind that put Kafka and Chaplin into the same conceptual frame is his very own Klee painting, an Angelus Novus - the angel of history. -- John Leonard Harper's Magazine

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