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Unpacking My Library - Walter Benjamin

Unpacking My Library


A new translation of Walter Benjamin's classic essay on the art of book collecting, deftly illustrated by Marie Basten. Benjamin presents collecting - this particular mode of consumption and ownership of material goods - as a quasi-mythical process of attachment to the world of objects, but one that does not emphasize their functional, utilitarian value – that is, their usefulness.

Critic, philosopher, translator and radio broadcaster, Walter Benjamin wrote widely and inimitably on literature, aesthetics, and Marxist thought. Perhaps his most enduring and influential essay, ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’, is collected in Illuminations, the volume in which ‘Unpacking My Library’ also appears. Perceiving the significance of the Reichstag fire, he left Germany in 1932, and settled in Paris, where he befriended Hannah Arendt, Herman Hesse and Kurt Weill. In 1940 he committed suicide to avoid capture by the Nazis.

The translator of this edition, Jason Kavett, is a PhD candidate at Yale, in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures.

Additional information

Weight 30 g
Dimensions 148 × 105 mm



Jason Kavett

Print process




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