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The Arcades Project by W Benjamin
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The Arcades Project (original 1982; edition 2002)

by W Benjamin (Auteur)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,341611,270 (4.5)1 / 37
"To great writers," Walter Benjamin once wrote, "finished works weigh lighter than those fragments on which they labor their entire lives." Conceived in Paris in 1927 and still in progress when Benjamin fled the Occupation in 1940, The Arcades Project (in German, Das Passagen-Werk) is a monumental ruin, meticulously constructed over the course of thirteen years--"the theater," as Benjamin called it, "of all my struggles and all my ideas." Focusing on the arcades of nineteenth-century Paris-glass-roofed rows of shops that were early centers of consumerism--Benjamin presents a montage of quotations from, and reflections on, hundreds of published sources, arranging them in thirty-six categories with descriptive rubrics such as "Fashion," "Boredom," "Dream City," "Photography," "Catacombs," "Advertising," "Prostitution," "Baudelaire," and "Theory of Progress." His central preoccupation is what he calls the commodification of things--a process in which he locates the decisive shift to the modern age. The Arcades Project is Benjamin's effort to represent and to critique the bourgeois experience of nineteenth-century history, and, in so doing, to liberate the suppressed "true history" that underlay the ideological mask. In the bustling, cluttered arcades, street and interior merge and historical time is broken up into kaleidoscopic distractions and displays of ephemera. Here, at a distance from what is normally meant by "progress," Benjamin finds the lost time(s) embedded in the spaces of things.… (more)
Member:LizMo
Title:The Arcades Project
Authors:W Benjamin (Auteur)
Info:Harvard University Press (2002), Edition: New e., 1088 pages
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The Arcades Project by Walter Benjamin (1982)

  1. 00
    Joe Gould's Secret by Joseph Mitchell (melmore)
    melmore: Joe Gould's (imaginary, non-existent?) secret history of New York has always struck me as a shadow image of Benjamin's sprawling but likewise somewhat-imaginary history of 19th century Paris.
  2. 00
    Species Being and Other Stories by Frére Dupont (inaudible)
    inaudible: And boredom is the grating before which the courtesan teases death.
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» See also 37 mentions

English (4)  Spanish (2)  All languages (6)
Showing 4 of 4
(Reading this one with a group over the course of a year; schedule of a few pages a day.)
  KatrinkaV | Apr 19, 2022 |
The Arcades is an impossible project: impossible to write, impossible in any ordinary sense to read. The impossibility, for Benjamin, seems to have been the point. For the reader, it makes the Arcades a kind of paradoxical or negative key to the rest of Benjamin's work. ( )
1 vote drenglish | Dec 23, 2016 |
Proto-hypertext with the flaneur as the modern day idling web surfer. Prescient and beautiful. ( )
2 vote SamKelly | Mar 14, 2011 |
See The Arcades Project at From Word to Word
2 vote jeremylukehill | Feb 24, 2009 |
Showing 4 of 4
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (25 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Walter Benjaminprimary authorall editionscalculated
Eiland, HowardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McLaughlin, KevinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"To great writers," Walter Benjamin once wrote, "finished works weigh lighter than those fragments on which they labor their entire lives." Conceived in Paris in 1927 and still in progress when Benjamin fled the Occupation in 1940, The Arcades Project (in German, Das Passagen-Werk) is a monumental ruin, meticulously constructed over the course of thirteen years--"the theater," as Benjamin called it, "of all my struggles and all my ideas." Focusing on the arcades of nineteenth-century Paris-glass-roofed rows of shops that were early centers of consumerism--Benjamin presents a montage of quotations from, and reflections on, hundreds of published sources, arranging them in thirty-six categories with descriptive rubrics such as "Fashion," "Boredom," "Dream City," "Photography," "Catacombs," "Advertising," "Prostitution," "Baudelaire," and "Theory of Progress." His central preoccupation is what he calls the commodification of things--a process in which he locates the decisive shift to the modern age. The Arcades Project is Benjamin's effort to represent and to critique the bourgeois experience of nineteenth-century history, and, in so doing, to liberate the suppressed "true history" that underlay the ideological mask. In the bustling, cluttered arcades, street and interior merge and historical time is broken up into kaleidoscopic distractions and displays of ephemera. Here, at a distance from what is normally meant by "progress," Benjamin finds the lost time(s) embedded in the spaces of things.

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