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Benjamin, Walter (Translated by Howard Eiland And Kevin McLaughlin). THE ARCADES PROJECT. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999. Hardcover. First Edition/First Printing. 1073 pages. Fine/Fine.

The author's unfinished master project. One of the greatest books of the 20th century. The first appearance of the title in English and in the United States. Precedes and should not be confused with all other subsequent editions. Published in a small and limited first print run as a hardcover original only and as part of Harvard University's Complete Works of Walter Benjamin. The First Edition is now rare. Presents Walter Benjamin's "Das Passagen-Werk" in a felicitous English translation. The definitive critical study of the 19th century, "the greatest modern effort at historical comprehension", and at 1073 pages, still an unfinished masterwork. "Conceived in Paris in 1927 and still in progress when Benjamin fled the Occupation in 1940, 'The Arcades Project' is a monumental ruin, meticulously constructed over the course of thirteen years: 'the theater of all my struggles and all my ideas'. Focussing 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" (Publisher's blurb). The genius - and achievement - of the book lies in Benjamin's prescient identification of the Paris Arcades as THE microcosm of modern life. That is to say, the life we are living today, both "micro", and through the so-called global economy, "macro". About his extreme, ambitious project, this is what the author himself had to say: "To great writers, finished works weigh lighter than those fragments on which they labor their entire lives" (Walter Benjamin). Walter Benjamin's personal heroism wasn't just some egotistical idea he had about himself. He lived and then died as a hero: He committed suicide on September 26, 1940 at the French-Spanish border while trying to escape the Nazis with a group of fellow Jews. They were all arrested by the Spanish police (Franco was one of Hitler's closest allies). Instead of being sent back to Germany to face certain death, Benjamin shot himself (he was 38 years old). Moved and humbled by his desperate yet principled stand, the Spanish police, defying Franco's orders, allowed his fellow Jews to escape. An absolute "must-have" title for Walter Benjamin collectors. This title is a great book. This is one of very few copies of the First American Edition/First Printing still available online and is in especially fine condition: Clean, crisp, and bright, a pristine beauty. Please note: Almost all other copies available online are subsequent printings or have serious flaws. This is surely an accessible and lovely alternative. A rare copy thus. The greatest literary/cultural critic of the 20th century. A fine collectible copy. (SEE ALSO OTHER WALTER BENJAMIN TITLES IN OUR CATALOG). ISBN 067404326X. $300.00

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