Amy Campbell Library > Biography > Walter Benjamin: The Story of a Friendship (New York Review Books Classics)

Walter Benjamin: The Story of a Friendship (New York Review Books Classics)

By Gershom Gerhard Scholem

Gershom Scholem is widely known because the 20th century's such a lot profound pupil of the Jewish mystical culture; Walter Benjamin, as a grasp philosopher whose notable essays combine the innovative, the revelatory, and the esoteric. Scholem used to be a precocious teen while he met Benjamin, who turned his shut good friend and highbrow mentor. His account of that relationship—which was once to stay the most important for either men—is either a party of his friend's spellbinding genius and a lament for the non-public and highbrow self-destructiveness that culminated in Benjamin's suicide in 1940.


At as soon as prickly and heartbroken, argumentative and loving, Walter Benjamin: The tale of a Friendship is an soaking up memoir with the problem of personality and rationale of a singular. As Scholem revisits the passionate engagements over Marxism and Kabbala, Europe and Palestine that he shared with Benjamin, it really is as though he sought to summon up his misplaced friend's spirit back, to have the ultimate within the argument that will have stored his life.

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Was once Scholem, in 1931, calling the morbidly histrionic Benjamin’s bluff? used to be he exposing the depression that Benjamin appeared self-indulgently and self-defeatingly to grasp to, with a peculiar type of hopefulness, all through his existence? Or used to be he decided, thirty-five years after Benjamin’s dying, to reconstitute that unusual early dialog alongside the traces of its hidden fact and determine Benjamin, who had stayed in Europe and refused Scholem’s plans to affix him in Jerusalem, with the self-destroyed Heinle? within the tale of a Friendship the query of Benjamin’s suicide virtually imperceptibly blurs into the query of Jewish survival. Scholem had a lot world-historical, in addition to own, company to complete in his memoir, and on the best of the record used to be his courting to Zionism, a subject matter that looms as huge during this publication as Benjamin himself. For Scholem’s very convinced thought of Benjamin had enormously to do along with his suggestion of Israel as a spot that will have stored Benjamin from a crazed Europe, and from his depression character. Scholem was once passionately averse to a person who didn't realize absolutely the necessity of a robust Jewish kingdom. however the Scholem who, in his seventies, sat right down to right the ancient list within the tale of a Friendship made guaranteed to make clear precisely what kind of Zionism he held pricey, and it was once the cultural Zionism of Ahad Ha’am, who emphasised ethical and non secular renewal, no longer the political Zionism of Herzl and his fans (“In these days [his formative early Zionist years] i used to be no nice admirer of the writings of Theodor Herzl”). To this finish, he comprises one other long letter he despatched to Benjamin from Jerusalem in 1931, a time of vitriolic Jewish politics and Arab riots. After characterizing his personal loved perception of Zionism as “a religious-mystical quest for a regeneration of Judaism” and contrasting this with “empirical Zionism,” whose aspect of departure is an very unlikely and provocative distortion of an alleged political “solution to the Jewish Question,” Scholem deplores the ascendancy of “purely reactionary forces in Zionism” with their “reactionary coverage towards the Arabs. ” He writes that “I have continuously learned that Palestine is important. ” dedicated to the assumption of an earthly, binational Jewish kingdom, he then is going directly to bluntly country his place, that is that Zionism, in pleasurable its political targets, has degraded its non secular goals: I say that Zionism has triumphed itself to death.... For years the melancholy of the victor has been the true demonism of Zionism.... within the empty ardour of a vocation develop into public we ourselves have invoked the forces of destruction.... by means of changing into noticeable our reason was once destroyed.... Zionism ignored the evening and shifted the procreation that should have intended every thing to it to an international industry the place there has been an excessive amount of solar and the covetousness of the dwelling degenerated right into a prostitution of the final remnants of our formative years. That was once now not where we had come to discover nor the sunshine that may enflame us.

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