Walter Benjamin

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By jwblackwell



9 Questions

What was Walter Benjamin's primary field of study?

Which of the following fields did Walter Benjamin NOT incorporate into his work?

Who were some of Walter Benjamin's formative friendships?

Which of Walter Benjamin's essays is most well-known?

What other field did Walter Benjamin contribute to besides philosophy and cultural criticism?

What was Walter Benjamin's family background?

What was Walter Benjamin's last complete work?

What is the Internationale Walter Benjamin Gesellschaft?

Where is the memorial sculpture dedicated to Walter Benjamin located?


Walter Benjamin: Philosopher, Cultural Critic, and Essayist

  • Walter Benjamin was a German Jewish philosopher, cultural critic, and essayist.

  • He combined elements of German idealism, Romanticism, Western Marxism, Jewish mysticism, and Neo-Kantianism in his work.

  • Benjamin was associated with the Frankfurt School and had formative friendships with thinkers such as Bertolt Brecht and Gershom Scholem.

  • He is best known for his essays "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" (1935) and "Theses on the Philosophy of History" (1940).

  • Benjamin was also a literary critic and made major translations into German of works by Baudelaire and Proust.

  • He was born to a wealthy business family of assimilated Ashkenazi Jews in Berlin in 1892.

  • Benjamin's uncle, William Stern, was a prominent German child psychologist who developed the concept of the intelligence quotient (IQ).

  • Benjamin's first exposure to Zionism was at the University of Berlin, where he formulated his own ideas about the meaning of Judaism.

  • He became socially acquainted with Leo Strauss in 1921 and remained an admirer of Strauss and his work throughout his life.

  • Benjamin was a maven within the left-intelligentsia of interwar Berlin and Paris, and his acquaintances included Kurt Gödel, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Martin Heidegger.

  • He died by suicide in 1940 at the age of 48 while attempting to escape from the invading Wehrmacht.

  • Despite not achieving popular acclaim during his life, Benjamin's work won posthumous renown in the decades following his death.Walter Benjamin was a German philosopher and cultural critic who lived from 1892 to 1940. He was forced to flee Germany due to the Nazi regime's persecution of Jews and spent most of his life in exile. Benjamin collaborated with Max Horkheimer and received funds from the Institute for Social Research. In Paris, he met other refugee German artists and intellectuals and befriended Hannah Arendt, novelist Hermann Hesse, and composer Kurt Weill. Benjamin's last complete work, "Theses on the Philosophy of History," was published in 1942. His best-known essay, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," identifies the perceptual shift that takes place when technological advancements emphasize speed and reproducibility. Benjamin's final, incomplete book was "The Passagenwerk" (Arcades Project, 1927–40) about Parisian city life in the 19th century. Benjamin's writing style was often considered difficult, but his work has become of seminal importance to academics in the humanities.The Legacy of Walter Benjamin: A Brief Overview

  • The first Internationale Walter Benjamin Gesellschaft was established in 1968 by Natias Neutert, a German thinker, poet, and artist, as a free association of philosophers, writers, artists, media theoreticians, and editors.

  • The society was established to take Benjamin's ideas as a welcome touchstone for social change and not as a scholastic "closed architecture."

  • A new Internationale Walter Benjamin Gesellschaft was established in 2000, registered in Karlsruhe (Germany), with members from 19 countries, providing an international forum for discourse.

  • The successor society supports research endeavors devoted to the creative and visionary potential of Benjamin's works and their view of 20th-century modernism.

  • The society conducts conferences, exhibitions, interdisciplinary, and intermedial events at regular intervals and different European venues.

  • In 2017, Walter Benjamin's Arcades Project was reinterpreted in an exhibition curated by Jens Hoffman at the Jewish Museum in New York City.

  • In 2022, Igor Chubarov created the Russian-language Telegram channel "Radio Benjamin."

  • A commemorative plaque is located at the residence where Benjamin lived in Berlin during the years 1930–1933, and a commemorative plaque is located in Paris where Benjamin lived in 1938–1940.

  • A town square created by Hans Kollhoff in 2001 was named "Walter-Benjamin-Platz" in the district of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf.

  • There is a memorial sculpture by the artist Dani Karavan at Portbou, where Walter Benjamin ended his life.

  • Walter Benjamin's works include "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction," "Theses on the Philosophy of History," and "One-Way Street."

  • Primary and secondary literature on Walter Benjamin is widely available, and there are several works available in other media.

  • External links to further reading and related topics are available.


How well do you know the life and work of Walter Benjamin? Test your knowledge with this quiz that covers the key aspects of Benjamin's contributions to philosophy, cultural criticism, and essay writing. Discover his influences, associations, and most notable works, including "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" and "Theses on the Philosophy of History." See how his legacy lives on through the Internationale Walter Benjamin Gesellschaft and commemorative plaques and sculptures. Take this quiz to deepen

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