In the frenzied final years of the Weimar Republic, amid economic collapse and mounting political catastrophe, Walter Benjamin emerged as one of the most original practicing literary critics and public intellectuals in the German-speaking world. Volume 2 of his selected writings, covering the years 1927 to 1934, displays the full spectrum of Benjamin's achievements at this pivotal stage in his career. Previously concerned with literary theory, Benjamin during these years does pioneering work in new areas, from the study of popular culture (a discipline he virtually created) to theories of the media and the visual arts. His writings on the theory of modernity - most of them new to readers of English - develop ideas as important to an understanding of the 20th century as any contained in his essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Technological Reproducibility". This volume brings together writings on major figures such as Brecht, Valery, and Gide, and on subjects ranging from film, radio, and the novel to memory, kitsch, and the theory of language.
Also included are several of Benjamin's most entertaining radio scripts for a popular audience, as well as some rare and revealing glimpses into a fragmentary autobiography, in the form of diary entries, travel sketches, recollections, and personal meditations.