Books: Between Wars

REFLECTIONS by Walter Benjamin; Harcourt Brace

Jovanovich; 348 pages; $12.95

Critic Walter Benjamin had no claims on fame and little influence during his lifetime. He committed suicide in September 1940 at the Franco-Spanish border when his exit visa was not accepted and he feared, as a Jew and socialist intellectual, forced repatriation to Germany. His essays were not collected and published until 1955. Thirteen years later they were translated into English and appeared under the title Illuminations. By that time, Benjamin had become a posthumous culture hero of Europe's new left.

Illuminations contained pieces on Kafka, Baudelaire, Proust, Brecht and the essay "The Work...

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