By Walter Benjamin
The lifetime of the German-Jewish literary critic and thinker Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) is a veritable allegory of the lifetime of letters within the 20th century. Benjamin's highbrow odyssey culminated in his demise by way of suicide at the Franco-Spanish border, pursued by way of the Nazis, yet lengthy ahead of he had traveled to the Soviet Union. His wonderful account of that trip is exclusive between Benjamin's writings for the frank, cruel means he struggles along with his reasons and conscience.
Perhaps the first cause of his journey was once his affection for Asja Lacis, a Latvian Bolshevik whom he had first met in Capri in 1924 and who could stay a massive highbrow and erotic impression on him in the course of the twenties and thirties. Asja Lacis resided in Moscow, eking out a dwelling as a journalist, and Benjamin's diary is, on one point, the account of his masochistic love affair with this elusive--and relatively unsympathetic--object of wish. On one other point, it's the tale of a failed romance with the Russian Revolution; for Benjamin had journeyed to Russia not just to notify himself firsthand approximately Soviet society, but additionally to reach at an eventual selection approximately becoming a member of the Communist get together. Benjamin's diary paints the challenge of a author seduced by means of the guarantees of the Revolution but unwilling to blinker himself to its human and institutional failings.
Moscow Diary is greater than a list of ideological ambivalence; its literary worth is huge. Benjamin is among the nice twentieth-century physiognomists of the town, and his portrait of hibernal Moscow stands beside his fantastic evocations of Berlin, Naples, Marseilles, and Paris. scholars of this quite fascinating interval will locate Benjamin's eyewitness account of Moscow terribly illuminating.
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And it used to be 1 / 4 to at least one earlier than we eventually obtained to Triumfalnaia sq.; I had confirmed up at his position as early as 11. ahead of that I had had a few espresso and cake in my common pastry store. This was once an outstanding factor simply because with all of the errands, i might pass over lunch that day. We first went to a financial institution on Petrovka simply because Basseches had to withdraw a few funds. I replaced funds myself, maintaining in simple terms fifty marks in reserve. Then Basseches took me alongside to a small place of work which will introduce me to a financial institution director he knew, a undeniable Dr. Schick,129 director of the international department. This guy had lived in Germany for a long time, had studied there, without doubt comes from a truly prosperous historical past, and, above and past his really expert education, had regularly maintained an curiosity within the arts. He had learn my interview within the VecherniaiaMoskva. As probability may have it, he had identified Scheerbart in my opinion in the course of his German scholar days. touch was once therefore instantly verified and our short dialogue ended with a call for participation to dinner at the twentieth. Then to Petrovka, the place I acquired 129. Maximilien Schick (1884-1968), poet and translator into German of Briusov, Gorky, and others. He lived in Germany from 1892-1907, and contributed to the Russian symbolist journal Vesy(Scales). Moscow Diary ninety one my passport. After that, through sleigh to Narkompros,'30 the place I acquired my papers confirmed for the border crossing. It used to be in this day that i eventually succeeded in a massive undertaking: i used to be in a position to convince Basseches to take one other sleigh and accompany me to the higher procuring degrees of the kingdom shop "GUM," the place the dolls and riders I have been eyeing have been situated. jointly we obtained no matter what used to be nonetheless in inventory, and that i picked out the 10 top goods for myself. every one expense an insignificant ten kopeks. My prepared remark had no longer betrayed me: they instructed us within the shop that those articles, that are made in Viatka,131 not locate their approach into Moscow: there's no longer a marketplace for them right here. What we acquired have been hence the final of these things on hand. Basseches additionally bought a few peasant textile. He went off together with his programs to lunch on the Savoy, while I purely had the time to drop every thing off at domestic. Then it used to be 4 o'clock, time to move stopover at Asja. We in basic terms stayed in her room in brief sooner than going to work out Reich. Manya132 was once already with him. yet no less than this manner we have been in a position to have a couple of minutes to ourselves once more. I requested Asja to come back to my position that night - i might be loose until eventually ten-thirty - and he or she promised to take action if attainable. Reich was once feeling far better. What it was once we spoke of through the stopover at, I now not take note. We left at approximately seven. After dinner I waited in useless for Asja and at a couple of zone to 11 I went over to Basseches's. yet there has been nobody there. They acknowledged he had no longer been again all day. all of the magazines there I had both already learn or discovered nauseating. After part an hour's wait i used to be almost about to move downstairs whilst I encountered his pal, and - i don't precisely recognize why: possibly simply because she did not want to visit the membership on my own with him - she insisted that I wait a piece longer.