Cover image for Melancholy dialectics : Walter Benjamin and the play of mourning
Title:
Melancholy dialectics : Walter Benjamin and the play of mourning
Author:
Pensky, Max, 1961-
Personal Author:
Edition:
Paperback edition.
Publication Information:
Amherst : University of Massachusetts Press, [2001]

©2001
Physical Description:
xii, 281 pages ; 24 cm.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781558492967
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library PT2603.E455 Z796 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

A comprehensive view of Benjamin's achievement, focusing on the central ideas of mourning and melancholia, developed in Benjamin's early work, Origin of German Tragic Drama (1928). Pensky sees the contradictions in Benjamin's thought as part of the melancholy way of seeing.


Author Notes

Max Pensky is associate professor of philosophy at Binghamton University.


Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Benjamin was one of the major critical thinkers of this century. Pensky (philosophy, Binghamton Univ.) uses the concepts developed in Benjamin's early work on the German Play of Mourning ( Deutschen Trauerspiel ) to illuminate all of his oeuvre. Pensky shows that Benjamin's ideas of a new criticism of nature and culture is based on his schema of mourning and melancholy; he also explains the concepts of subjectivity, allegory, and the dialectical image in Benjamin's work. Benjamin attempted to reconcile the ego and action in a critical stance based on a reading of history and literature as fragments of the past and of understanding. Pensky touches on his mystical view of language, redemption, and history. A difficult subject, well handled. Recommended for large philosophy collections.-- Gene Shaw, NYPL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice Review

Benjamin, who has come to be regarded as among the 20th century's most important cultural critics, drew perceptively from several traditions. For example, his closest friend, Gershom Scholem, was the greatest modern scholar of the kabala (medieval Jewish mystical interpretation of Scripture) and a significant intellectual influence on him. Benjamin was also a master of the German intellectual tradition from Kant through Hegel and Marx. Pensky's difficult book (the style is dense and abstruse) attempts a comprehensive view of Benjamin's achievement, focusing on the central ideas of mourning and melancholia, developed in Benjamin's early work, Origin of German Tragic Drama (1928). Pensky sees the contradictions in Benjamin's thought as part of "the melancholy way of seeing. Between melancholy subject and melancholy objects, this way of seeing subsists in the dialectial interval between these two constituted moments." All of Benjamin's modes, especially allegory, and all of his literary/philosophical works are here viewed as part of the melancholic dialectic. Pensky has clearly mastered all the available material on Benjamin, as well as the relevant cultural criticism. This volume, itself an effort in cultural criticism, is well printed, with extensive notes. Pensky has clearly mastered all the available material on Benjamin, as well as the relevant cultural crticism. Useful index of names, titles, and topics. Graduate; faculty. D. S. Gochberg; Michigan State University


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