Monday, March 05, 2007
This book is a valuable collection of essays and reflections by the German literary and cultural critic Walter Benjamin. The collection is enhanced by the excellent introduction provided by Hannah Arendt. Of the ten essays in the collection by far the most famous is The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. In this essay Benjamin discusses the impact of mechanical reproduction through photography and film on the nature of works of art, even so far as to shape the design of new works.
From comments on the "authenticity" of a work of art to the nature of the "masses" views of art this essay encompasses a wide range of ideas. My favorite essay of the collection, however, is Unpacking My Library - a personal excursion into the life of a book collector and how each book intersects with one's life and effects the direction of that life. With other essays on Kafka, Proust and Baudelaire this collection is one of my favorites - one to which I return from time to time.