Walter Benjamin: Translation and spirit in the time of the now

Walter Benjamin
Image, 1928, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Jared Randall translates Benjamin’s sonnets and discusses Marxist materialist critique

Abstract

This combined essay and poetry translation focuses on Walter Benjamin’s little-known collection of sonnets written predominantly for his friend, Fritz Heinle, who died by suicide at the start of World War I. Relying on the recent translation of the entirety of Benjamin’s sonnets into English by Carl Skoggard, the two-part essay attempts to situate these sonnets as an overlooked but important element to an overall understanding of Benjamin’s life and work. Further, the sonnets and Benjamin’s biography point to a vital spirituality at the heart of Marxist materialist critique and practice, forming a constellation from which an understanding of Benjamin should not be separated and pointing toward the need for a renewed sense of urgency to continue his work in the time of the now.

To find out more

Randall, Jared (2016) “Walter Benjamin: Translation and Spirit in the Time of the Now“, Rethinking Marxism: A Journal of Economics, Culture and Society, 28(4): 453-469

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