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Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Walter Benjamin’s A Berlin Childhood



I’ve just started reading this book that I obtained some time ago through Amazon. I go for e-books as much as possible these days – they’re cheaper and more transportable. I can have them with me at home or in the office. However, not all books are available as e-books. This one wasn’t at the time I bought it. And actually, I’m rather glad. This is such a nice volume. It’s quite small and the cover is quite soft. It’s off-white. The pages are cream. Each page has a two centimetre border. It‘s very light to hold and very tactile. A joy to own, in fact.
The account is similar in some ways to Proust’s account of his childhood. Memories are associated with the senses. Benjamin gives us a glimpse of Berlin how it really was when both he and Ernst Lehrs were young. I really need to understand this in order to be able to write some of the earlier scenes.
As I read more I became quite interested in Benjamin so found out more about him. He may best be described as a philosopher. He committed suicide in 1940 when he was persecuted by the Nazis. Some rather flippantly say that he claimed that history could be rewritten. He actually meant we can reinterpret history. This happens constantly with such issues as the Holocaust as people change their perceptions when they gain new insights. I need the raw eye-witness account from the actual time of the events in my story,  however.

 

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