Walter Benjamin Jots in His Notebook Every Book He’s Read Since He Was 18

benjamin gallery 4

If you’re in Berlin, stop by the Galerie Max Hetzler, which is currently staging an exhibition where the Jewish mystic philosopher Walter Benjamin plays a prominent role. Here’s how the gallery sets the scene:

[British artist British artist Edmund] De Waal first came to know the city of Berlin through the writings of Walter Benjamin, particularly his autobiographical fragments in A Berlin Childhood around 1900. The exhibition title, Irrkunst, has been taken from Benjamin’s concept of the art of getting lost, the art of noticing what has been disregarded.

In the Bleibtreustrasse gallery, offering a room with a view on Walter Benjamin’s former school, [De Waal] will show works that reflect Benjamin’s childhood, his passion for gathering objects and the idea of collecting as memory work. Here, amongst others, de Waal will present a major new series of vitrines. Furthermore, a selection of original notes and manuscripts from the Walter Benjamin archive in Berlin will be on view at Bleibtreustrasse and illustrate Benjamin’s own way of working as well as de Waal’s deep fascination with the œuvre of this thinker.

One such item on display, we discovered through Julia Michalska’s Twitter stream, is “Walter Benjamin’s notebook in which he noted all the books he read since he was 18”–a picture of which you can find above. When I zoomed into the image, I couldn’t make out the books on the list. But I did get this detail: By 1931/32, the 40-year-old Benjamin had amassed 1200 books on his list, which means he was reading, on average, 54 books per year. No doubt, they weren’t light ones. If anyone stops by Galerie Max Hetzler and identifies actual titles in the notebook, we’d love it if you could note some in the comments section below.

Update: Some titles were added to the comments below–books by Cocteau, Hemingway, Malraux and more. Check them out.

h/t @TedGioia

Related Content:

Walter Benjamin’s 13 Oracular Writing Tips

Walter Benjamin’s Radio Plays for Kids (1929-1932)

Walter Benjamin’s Philosophical Thought Presented by Two Experimental Films

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  • Peter Hintz says:

    1155) Martin Beradt: Der deutsche Richter
    1154) EC Bentley: Der Sprung durchs Fenster
    1155) Klaus Mann: Geschwister
    1156) Lion Feuchtwanger: Erfolg
    1157) Shakespeare: Timon von Athen
    1158) Lichtenberg: Timorus oder Verteidigung zweier Juden
    1159) Hemingway: In einem andern Land
    1160) L. Carroll: Alice im Wunderland
    1161) Ernst Bloch: Spuren
    1162) Hofmannsthal: Fragmente eines Romans
    1163) Otto Roeld: Malenski auf der Tour
    1164) E. Podach: Nietzsches Zusammenbruch
    1165) Mac Orlan: Alkoholschmuggler
    1166) Karl Korsch: Marxismus und Philosophie
    1167) Thomas Mann: Deutsche Ansprache
    1168) Malraux: Les conquérants
    1169) Mansfield Scott: Der schwarze Kreis
    1170) Johannes von Günther: Cagliostro
    1171) Friedrich Kroner: Der Kreisel
    1172) Marcel Jouhandeau: Ximenès Manlinjoude
    1173) Wilhelm Speyer: Die goldne Horde
    1174) Jean Cocteau: La voix humaine
    1175) Hughes: Ein Sturmwind auf Jamaika
    1176) Anthony Berkeley: Der Detektivklub
    1177) Polgar: Die Defraudanten
    1178) Das Problem des Klassischen und die Antike
    1179) L’affaire Redureau Documents réunis par André Gide
    1180) Matjew Roesmann: Fischbein streckt die Waffen

  • cees says:

    From 18 to 40 is 22 years, so 100 books a year would be 2200 books and not 1200. Thank God,he read in a more human pace !!

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