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.
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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
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
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 !!
A (near complete) list can be found here:
Where is this manuscript now?