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How many cities have revealed themselves to me in the marches I undertook in the pursuit of books!” – Walter Benjamin: “Unpacking my Library”. I am unpacking . 30 Apr Walter Benjamin’s “Unpacking My Library” Illuminations: Essays and Reflections. Ed. Hannah Arendt. Schocken Books; New York, 24 Aug Last night, in the midst of moving books all over my house, I took the opportunity to revisit Walter Benjamin’s essay “Unpacking My Library.

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It was founded in by Peter D.

Black Hawk Hancock on Stuart Hall Excerpted from Packing My Library: Notify me of new posts via email. Walter Benjamin belongs to a group of people who he feels is becoming extinct.

When unpacking his library, Benjamin says he is filled with images and memories he associates with the books. But, as Hegel put it, only when it is dark does the owl of Minerva begin its flight. We are, in other words, encouraged to unpack this library both in a M sense and in the sense bejnamin unraveling meaning.

Benjamin sets the scene not by describing orderly rows of books usually associated with libraries but talking about the disarray of storage. It is its objecthood, and my intimate possession thereof wherein lies its meaning, wherein I live. I like it for reasons unrelated to the words on the pages, the words written by Perec and translated by David Bellos. There are no original manuscripts or confidential correspondence; the artifacts on display did not, by and large, play a pivotal part in History with a capital H.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: I spent my winter break this year packing up my office and moving to a new building. But regardless of who is featured, the argument, a very Benjaminian argument, remains: He is now the director of the National Library of Argentina.


It sells contemporary fiction and critical theory. One of the most important aspects of the relationship between the collector and his objects is that act of acquisition.

Walter Benjamin on book collecting

I have a shelf reserved for my teachers over the years: You are commenting using your Twitter account. In this waiting period, before the new order has been established, they exist in a tangle of synchronicities and remembrances, forming sudden and unexpected alliances or parting from each other incongruously.

After the destruction of the Second Temple by Titus in 70 A. Notify me of new posts knpacking email. I would say that without public libraries, and without a conscious understanding of their role, a society of the written word is doomed to oblivion. Conrad, Melville, Joyce for Kerouac. Post was not sent – check your email addresses! To find out more, including how to control cookies, see here: Walter Benjamin on book collecting.

O bliss of the collector, bliss of the man of leisure! This one offers many of the same tomes as City Lights including multiple editions of On the Road and the familiar 5 inch pocket poets edition of Howlbut unlike City Lights, alongside brand new books the Beat Museum sells vintage volumes too.

I, for one, have in mind umpacking less obscure, something more palpable than that; what I am really concerned with is giving you some insight into the relationship of a book collector to his possessions, into collecting rather than a collection. Burroughs enumerated and alphabetized as a booklist. Then, this month, at 29, I came back to visit my four year old niece and one year old nephew.

Here there are few spectacular items. Kiersten said, on June 1, at 1: And interspersed throughout the rest of the shelves are the books, too many to name, that made me and sustained me as a unpacling. Every passion borders on the chaotic, but the collector’s passion borders on the chaos of memories.

Mabel Rosenheck is a doctoral candidate in media studies at Northwestern University. While other books have come and gone, this one has been packed and shelved, repacked and reshelved something like a dozen times. By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use. I still keep the key to a door bennamin I will never open again.


Reflections on Walter Benjamin’s “Unpacking My Library” on the Occasion of Unpacking My Library

You need not fear any of that. Also, auctions can allow collectors to get carried away with winning the bid. The shop invites the collector in and the books ask to be packed and unpacked, possessed and handled, read and owned.

This or any other procedure is merely a dam against the spring tide of memories which surges toward any collector as he contemplates his possessions. Every book I have, I have for a reason. Support The Toast Close this. Benjamin takes the majority of the essay describing the various means of acquiring books and retelling stories of some of the books within his library.

Apart from buying books in stores auctions are another walrer for buying books but this can be more dangerous as the collector needs to pay attention not only to the books but also to other benjajin.

These are the very areas in which any order is a balancing act of extreme precariousness. Places that seem essential to us resist even material destruction. Here descriptive labels sometimes ramble on, other times are absent altogether. Loss entails hope as well as remembrance.

I procrastinate a whole lot and never manage to get nearly anything done. We pay every one!