Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings

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“This book is just that: reflections of a highly polished mind that uncannily approximate the century’s fragments of shattered traditions.” — Time
 
A companion volume to Illuminations, the first collection of Walter Benjamin’s writings, Reflections presents a further sampling of his wide-ranging work. Here Benjamin evolves a theory of language as the medium of all creation, discusses theater and surrealism, reminisces about Berlin in the 1920s, recalls conversations with Bertolt Brecht, and provides travelogues of various cities, including Moscow under Stalin.
            Benjamin moves seamlessly from literary criticism to autobiography to philosophical-theological speculations, cementing his reputation as one of the greatest and most versatile writers of the twentieth century.
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About the author

WALTER BENJAMIN (1892–1940) was a German-Jewish Marxist literary critic, essayist, translator, and philosopher. He was associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory and was greatly inspired by the Marxism of Bertolt Brecht and Jewish mysticism.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Published on
Feb 19, 2019
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Pages
352
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ISBN
9780547711164
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Social Scientists & Psychologists
Literary Collections / Essays
Literary Criticism / General
Philosophy / Criticism
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The reproach is commonly brought against musical biographies that they are monotonous: and indeed the life of the musician has not often afforded much scope for incident or variety. If he be a composer he treads the accustomed course of early struggles, hard-earned victories and posthumous fame: if he be a virtuoso his career is one triumphal progress which leaves little to record except the successive trophies that he has planted and the successive laurels that he has won. The concentration required by his art removes him in some degree from the stir and stress of public events: for the most part he dwells in an ideal city of his own and breathes the more freely when he has shut its gates upon the world. To this it may be added that the biographers of our great musicians have too often tended to merge the historian in the advocate. They are full of a generous enthusiasm for their subject; they are anxious above all things to present it in an attractive light; but they sometimes neglect Cromwell’s advice to Sir Peter Lely and spoil their portrait by giving it a classic regularity of feature. No doubt every biographer is something of a partisan:—it is no use writing a man’s life unless you think well of him:—but the worst of all ways to arouse interest in your hero is to represent him on a faultless paladin and to treat as a paynim and a miscreant everyone who ever offered him the least opposition. No man can build the monument of departed greatness if he is using up all the stones to pelt his adversaries.
Poignant remembrances and sharp observations from the “most able and witty” Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Foreign Affairs (The New York Times).
 
This engaging new collection of essays from the New York Times–bestselling novelist gathers together her reflections on the writing life; fond recollections of inspiring friends; and perceptive, playful commentary on preoccupations ranging from children’s literature to fashion and feminism.
 
Citing her husband’s comment to her that “Nobody asked you to write a novel,” Lurie goes on to eloquently explain why there was never another choice for her. She looks back on attending Radcliffe in the 1940s—an era of wartime rations and a wall of sexism where it was understood that Harvard was only for the men.
 
From offering a gleeful glimpse into Jonathan Miller’s production of Hamlet to memorializing mentors and intimate friends such as poet James Merrill, illustrator Edward Gorey, and New York Times Book Review coeditor Barbara Epstein, Lurie celebrates the creative artists who encouraged and inspired her.
 
A lifelong devotee of children’s literature, she suggests saying no to Narnia, revisits the phenomenon of Harry Potter, and tells the truth about the ultimate good bad boy, Pinocchio.
 
Returning to a favorite subject, fashion, Lurie explores the symbolic meaning of aprons, enthuses on how the zipper made dressing and undressing faster—and sexier—and tells how, feeling abandoned by Vogue at age sixty, she finally found herself freed from fashion’s restrictions on women.
 
Always spirited no matter the subject, Lurie ultimately conveys a joie de vivre that comes from a lifetime of never abandoning her “childish impulse to play with words, to reimagine the world.”
A New York Times Bestseller

Foreword by Stephen J. Dubner, coauthor of Freakonomics

When first-year graduate student Sudhir Venkatesh walked into an abandoned building in one of Chicago’s most notorious housing projects, he hoped to find a few people willing to take a multiple-choice survey on urban poverty--and impress his professors with his boldness. He never imagined that as a result of this assignment he would befriend a gang leader named JT and spend the better part of a decade embedded inside the projects under JT’s protection. From a privileged position of unprecedented access, Venkatesh observed JT and the rest of his gang as they operated their crack-selling business, made peace with their neighbors, evaded the law, and rose up or fell within the ranks of the gang’s complex hierarchical structure. Examining the morally ambiguous, highly intricate, and often corrupt struggle to survive in an urban war zone, Gang Leader for a Day also tells the story of the complicated friendship that develops between Venkatesh and JT--two young and ambitious men a universe apart.

"Riveting."—The New York Times

"Compelling... dramatic... Venkatesh gives readers a window into a way of life that few Americans understand."—Newsweek

"An eye-opening account into an underserved city within the city."—Chicago Tribune

"The achievement of Gang Leader for a Day is to give the dry statistics a raw, beating heart."—The Boston Globe

"A rich portrait of the urban poor, drawn not from statistics but from viivd tales of their lives and his, and how they intertwined."—The Economist

"A sensative, sympathetic, unpatronizing portrayal of lives that are ususally ignored or lumped into ill-defined stereotype."—Finanical Times

Sudhir Venkatesh’s latest book Floating City: A Rogue Sociologist Lost and Found in New York’s Underground Economy—a memoir of sociological investigation revealing the true face of America’s most diverse city—is also published by Penguin Press.


 

 

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