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The heroic pedestrian or the pedestrian hero: Walter Benjamin and the flaneur

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date03/1992
Number of pages9
Original languageEnglish


Among the concerns of Walter Benjamin's giant mosaic of 19th century Parisian cultural life, the Passagenarbeit, and his related studies of Baudelaire, one of the most perplexing figures is the flaneur. Although the lone individual wandering within urban labyrinths appears in Benjamin's other city sketches, he thought that “Paris created the flaneur as a type” (M1, 4 PW p. 525). He is the stroller — the pedestrian who finds delight in ambling contentedly and unhurriedly through the city. He is at home in the metropolitan environment. As the flaneur turns the boulevard into an interior setting, so the internalized street, the arcade, is his favorite haunt.