Benjamin, Walter

Walter Benjamin, German philosopher and cultural critic, 1892-1940

Benjamin was an eclectic thinker, combining elements of German idealism, Romanticism, historical materialism, and Jewish mysticism, He made enduring and influential contributions to aesthetic theory and Western Marxism, and is associated with the Frankfurt School. Among Benjamin's major works as a literary critic are essays on Goethe, Kafka, Kraus, Leskov, Proust, Baudelaire, and translation theory. He also made major translations into German of the Tableaux Parisiens section of Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal and parts of Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu. Benjamin committed suicide in Portbou at the French-Spanish border while attempting to escape from the Nazis.