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A collection of quotations by Walter Benjamin on history, hope, critic, love, literary, books, writing, travel, translation, memory, philosophy and stories.

61 Notable Quotes By Walter Benjamin That Will Illuminate Your Path

Quick Facts

Born On: July 15, 1892

Died On: September 27, 1940

Born In: Berlin, German Empire

Died At Age: 48

Walter Benjamin was a German-Jewish philosopher, cultural and literary critic and essayist. He was active with the ‘Western Marxism’ and ‘Marxist hermeneutics’. Walter was born to a prosperous Jewish family in Berlin. He was formally educated at the Kaiser Friedrich School in ‘Charlottenburg’. He was an alumnus of ‘University of Freiburg’, and ‘The University of Berlin’. He settled in Berlin during the 1920s and worked as a translator and a literary critic. The war played the villain when his literary career begun and he shifted to Paris in 1933. Walter is acclaimed for his letters and essays that showed much intellect and mostly surrounded Zionism. Fearing his capture by the Nazis, he committed suicide in 1940. ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’, ‘The Task of the Translator’ and ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’ were his most exalted works. His association with great thinkers and literary geniuses of his time is considered the backing of his works. In modern times, Walter is regarded as one of the most renowned German literary critics. This great personality made an infamous era bright by his thinking and work. Here is a treasure trove of sayings and quotations by the great writer and critic. Go through the notable quotes and sayings by Walter Benjamin which are minimized depiction of his persona.

History is written by the victors.

Walter Benjamin

The only way of knowing a person is to love them without hope.

Walter Benjamin

Writers are really people who write books not because they are poor, but because they are dissatisfied with the books which they could buy but do not like.

Walter Benjamin

There is no document of civilization that is not at the same time a document of barbarism.

Walter Benjamin

How many cities have revealed themselves to me in the marches I undertook in the pursuit of books!

Walter Benjamin

To be happy is to be able to become aware of oneself without fright.

Walter Benjamin

Work on a good piece of writing proceeds on three levels: a musical one, where it is composed; an architectural one, where it is constructed; and finally, a textile one, where it is woven.

Walter Benjamin

You could tell a lot about a man by the books he keeps - his tastes, his interest, his habits.

Walter Benjamin

It is the task of the translator to release in his own language that pure language that is under the spell of another, to liberate the language imprisoned in a work in his re-creation of that work.

Walter Benjamin

Every passion borders on the chaotic, but the collector's passion borders on the chaos of memories.

Walter Benjamin

The work of memory collapses time.

Walter Benjamin

All efforts to make politics aesthetic culminate in one thing, war.

Walter Benjamin

In the end, we get older, we kill everyone who loves us through the worries we give them, through the troubled tenderness we inspire in them, and the fears we ceaselessly cause.

Walter Benjamin

It is only for those without hope that hope is given.

Walter Benjamin

No poem is intended for the reader, no picture for the beholder, no symphony for the listener.

Walter Benjamin

Ideas are to objects as constellations are to stars [translated from Trauerspiel, 1928].

Walter Benjamin

Let no thought pass incognito, and keep your notebook as strictly as the authorities keep their register of aliens.

Walter Benjamin

Our image of happiness is indissolubly bound up with the image of redemption.

Walter Benjamin

I came into the world under the sign of Saturn -- the star of the slowest revolution, the planet of detours and delays.

Walter Benjamin

Death is the sanction of everything the story-teller can tell. He has borrowed his authority from death.

Walter Benjamin

Boredom is the dream bird that hatches the egg of experience. A rustling in the leaves drives him away.

Walter Benjamin

What has been forgotten.... is never something purely individual.

Walter Benjamin

Work on good prose has three steps: a musical stage when it is composed, an architectonic one when it is built, and a textile one when it is woven.

Walter Benjamin

There is no document of civilization that is not also a document of barbarism.

Walter Benjamin

All human knowledge takes the form of interpretation.

Walter Benjamin

The distracted person, too, can form habits.

Walter Benjamin

Any order is a balancing act of extreme precariousness.

Walter Benjamin

Languages are not strangers to on another.

Walter Benjamin

The film is the first art form capable of demonstrating how matter plays tricks on man.

Walter Benjamin

The crowd is the veil through which the familiar city beckons to the flneur as phantasmagoria-now a landscape, now a room.

Walter Benjamin

As long as there is still one beggar around, there will still be myth.

Walter Benjamin

Books, too, begin like the week – with a day of rest in memory of their creation. The preface is their Sunday.

Walter Benjamin

Memory is not an instrument for exploring the past but its theatre. It is the medium of past experience, as the ground is the medium in which dead cities lie interred.

Walter Benjamin

Solitude appeared to me as the only fit state of man.

Walter Benjamin

The only historian capable of fanning the spark of hope in the past is the one who is firmly convinced that even the dead will not be safe from the enemy if he is victorious.

Walter Benjamin

For only that which we knew and practiced at age 15 will one day constitute our attraction. And one thing, therefore, can never be made good: having neglected to run away from home.

Walter Benjamin

To great writers, finished works weigh lighter than those fragments on which they labor their entire lives.

Walter Benjamin

Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be.

Walter Benjamin

What, in the end, makes advertisements superior to criticism? Not what the moving red neon says—but the fiery pool reflecting it in the asphalt.

Walter Benjamin

Truth resists being projected into the realm of knowledge.

Walter Benjamin

What draws the reader to the novel is the hope of warming his shivering life with a death he reads about

Walter Benjamin

As Hegel put it, only when it is dark does the owl of Minerva begin its flight. Only in extinction is the collector comprehend.

Walter Benjamin

Every passion borders on chaos, that of the collector on the chaos of memory.

Walter Benjamin

The camera introduces us to unconscious optics as does psychoanalysis to unconscious impulses.

Walter Benjamin

Unlimited goodwill. Suspension of the compulsive anxiety complex. The beautiful "character" unfolds. All of those present become comically iridescent. At the same time one is pervaded by their aura.

Walter Benjamin

Thus there is in the life of a collector a dialectical tensions between the poles of disorder and order.

Walter Benjamin

Historical materialism has every reason to distinguish itself sharply from bourgeois habits of thought. Its founding concept is not progress but actualization.

Walter Benjamin

Man's gift of seeing resemblances is nothing other than a rudiment of the powerful compulsion in former times to become and behave like something else.

Walter Benjamin

In the fields with which we are concerned, knowledge comes only in flashes. The text is the thunder rolling long afterward.

Walter Benjamin

To great writers, finished works weigh lighter than those fragments on which they work throughout their lives.

Walter Benjamin

The gaze of nature thus awakened dreams and pulls the poet after it.

Walter Benjamin

True translation is transparent: it does not obscure the original, does not stand in its light, but rather allows pure language, as if strengthened by its own medium, to shine even more fully on the original.

Walter Benjamin

In the world's structure dream loosens individuality like a bad tooth.

Walter Benjamin

To articulate what is past does not mean to recognize “how it really was.” It means to take control of a memory, as it flashes in a moment of danger.

Walter Benjamin

Indeed, is not the homecoming amateur with his vast number of artistic snaps more contented than the hunter, returning laden with the game which is only of value to the trader.

Walter Benjamin

The book borrower...proves himself to be an inveterate collector of books not so much by the fervor with which he guards his borrowed treasures...as by his failure to read these books.

Walter Benjamin

The book borrower… proves himself to be an in venerate collector of books not so much by the fervor with which he guards his borrowed treasures… as by his failure to read these books.

Walter Benjamin

Do not write the conclusion of a work in your familiar study. You would not find the necessary courage there.

Walter Benjamin

The construction of life is at present in the power of facts far more than of convictions, and of such facts as have scarcely ever become the basis of convictions.

Walter Benjamin

Freud’s fundamental thought, on which these remarks are based, is formulated by the assumption that “consciousness comes into being at the site of a memory trace.

Walter Benjamin