Benjamin's Arcades

An unGuided tour

By Peter Buse, Ken Hirschkop, Scott McCracken and Bertrand Taithe

Benjamin's Arcades

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-6989-5
  • Pages: 224
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £14.99
  • Published Date: April 2006
  • BIC Category: History, Traditional & folk music, Philosophy, Folk style, BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Consumer Behavior, PHILOSOPHY / General, Consumerism, Humanities / Social & cultural history, The arts / Folk & traditional music
  • Series: Encounters: Cultural Histories


The Arcades Project, Walter Benjamin's unfinished masterpiece, is a brilliant but maddening book. Benjamin's Arcades: an unGuided Tour looks for the method behind the madness, carefully reconstructing the intellectual and political context of the work and unpacking its numerous analogies, metaphors and conceptual gambits. Written by three literary scholars and one historian, this text is both a reading companion and a vigorous interpretation of one of the most important humanistic texts of the twentieth century.

Benjamin's Arcades is composed of 16 entries and a specially designed 'convoluted' index. Some of the entries confront Benjamin with a different reading of his own historical sources (Blanqui, Marx, Giedion), others look intensively at key themes, obsessions, and images (the gambler, commodity fetishism, the Angel of History, magic). Throughout there is discussion of the relationship of Benjamin's work to current and past debate on topics such as modernity, Judaism, fascism, and psychoanalysis. Benjamin's Arcades opens up Benjamin's texts to a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives and will be an essential text for those seeking to better understand this extraordinary work.


Preface: Beginnings
1. Encounters
2. Arcades
3. Method
4. Judaism
5. Modernity
6. Magic
7. Empathy- Einfühlung
8. Insurrection
9. Angel of History
10. Awakening
11. Advertising
12. Nations
13. Jeux/Joie/Jouissance
14. Idleness
15. Night
16. Nazis


Peter Buse is Senior Lecturer in the School of English, Sociology, Politics and Contemporary History at The University of Salford. Ken Hirschkop is Senior Lecturer in English Literature at The University of Manchester. Scott McCracken is Professor of English at Keele University. Bertrand Taithe is Professor of Cultural History at The University of Manchester

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