By Walter Benjamin
The lifetime of the German-Jewish literary critic and thinker Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) is a veritable allegory of the lifetime of letters within the 20th century. Benjamin's highbrow odyssey culminated in his demise by way of suicide at the Franco-Spanish border, pursued by way of the Nazis, yet lengthy earlier than he had traveled to the Soviet Union. His lovely account of that trip is exclusive between Benjamin's writings for the frank, cruel manner he struggles along with his causes and conscience.
Perhaps the first cause of his journey used to be his affection for Asja Lacis, a Latvian Bolshevik whom he had first met in Capri in 1924 and who could stay a massive highbrow and erotic impression on him during the twenties and thirties. Asja Lacis resided in Moscow, eking out a dwelling as a journalist, and Benjamin's diary is, on one point, the account of his masochistic love affair with this elusive--and quite unsympathetic--object of wish. On one other point, it's the tale of a failed romance with the Russian Revolution; for Benjamin had journeyed to Russia not just to notify himself firsthand approximately Soviet society, but additionally to reach at an eventual determination approximately becoming a member of the Communist social gathering. Benjamin's diary paints the predicament of a author seduced by means of the guarantees of the Revolution but unwilling to blinker himself to its human and institutional failings.
Moscow Diary is greater than a checklist of ideological ambivalence; its literary price is huge. Benjamin is among the nice twentieth-century physiognomists of the town, and his portrait of hibernal Moscow stands beside his incredible evocations of Berlin, Naples, Marseilles, and Paris. scholars of this fairly fascinating interval will locate Benjamin's eyewitness account of Moscow terribly illuminating.
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Additional resources for Moscow Diary
I feel there are even plans to interview me approximately my "Moscow impressions. " All this because of the chilly climate right here, which in the intervening time has a bit frozen up the movement of intellectuals. (I figured out a few curious information about Toller's stopover at the following that got here to this kind of surprising finish. ) what is new with the 2 of you? Please respond to my Berlin handle. additionally inform me what the probabilities are of your coming to Paris. i believe i will be there round March. Warmest greetings to you and Escha. eight Yours, Walter 6. Die Kreatur, a literary quarterly, was once then edited by means of Buber, Joseph Wittig, and Viktor von Weizsacker. Benjamin's journey to Moscow used to be financed partially with an enhance from Buber. The piece produced for Die Kreatur, "Moscow," has been translated into English in Reflections, pp. 97-136. See Benjamin's letter to Buber on pp. 132-133 of this factor. 7. Little is understood approximately Dora Benjamin's actions at Ullstein Verlag, because the publishing house's archive used to be destroyed throughout the conflict. After 1927 the PraktischeBerlinerinwas renamed Modenwelt. eight. Elsa Burchardt Scholem used to be Gershom Scholem's first spouse, from 1923-1936. Letters 127 Moscow Sadovaia Triumfalnaia December 26, 1926 expensive Jula [Radt],9 i'm hoping you get this letter. should you do, write me a pleasant answer. If i'm now venturing to put in writing, the reason is, i've got simply had information from Germany for the 1st time for the reason that my arrival the following. I had proposal that each one the letters have been getting misplaced. however the mail looks trustworthy. i've got already written you a postcard - do not think that you can still file on issues right here. i'm going to need to paintings very much on what i'm seeing and listening to if i'm to provide it a few kind of form. within the present scenario, the current - although it be fleeting - is of amazing price. every thing is being outfitted or rebuilt and each second poses very serious questions. The tensions of public lifestyles - which for the main half are literally of a theological kind - are so nice that they block off all inner most lifestyles to an unbelievable measure. in the event you have been right here, you'll most likely be extra astonished than i'm; I take into accout a number of the stuff you acknowledged approximately Russia at Agay throughout the summer time. - i can't investigate all of this; essentially, the placement the following allows and calls for one to tackle a place inside it, even supposing this is able to be a sceptical place in lots of respects; from the surface, all you are able to do is become aware of it. it really is completely very unlikely to foretell what will come of all this in Russia. possibly a really socialist neighborhood, maybe anything fullyyt diverse. The conflict that's going to choose this is often nonetheless in growth. it truly is most efficient to keep up a correspondence with this example - yet out of basic concerns it's most unlikely for me to get totally concerned. It continues to be noticeable to what volume i will be in a position to determine concrete family with advancements right here. a number of conditions make it appear most probably that any more i'm going to give a contribution giant articles to Russian journals and it truly is attainable that i would do substantial paintings for the Encyclopedia.