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Walter Benjamin and the architecture of history

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date03/1992
JournalTelos
Journal number91
Volume1992
Number of pages9
Pages165-173
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

In a letter to Gershom Scholem dated January 30th, 1928, Walter Benjamin notes that his study of the Parisian arcades, begun the previous Spring with his colleague Franz Hessel, would be “the work of at least a few weeks” This proved to be an understatement: Benjamin was still engaged in the project in 1940 when he died. During those twelve years the work had undergone the most radical metamorphosis. From a short sketch of the then fading and ramshackle Parisian arcades, the fashionable shopping palaces built of iron and glass in the early 19th century, the Passagenarbeit had been transformed into a vast critical study of the culture and origins of modern capitalism.