Benjamin and collecting
Benjamin concluded his essay on book collecting by letting us know that collecting is the most profound relation that one can have to things. I will defend Benjamins views on collecting against the criticisms of his friends Gershom Scholem and Hannah Arendt. Drawing on Benjamins ideas on history, I will argue that true collecting treats the object historically. Collecting is a way of meditating on history. Benjamins criticism always required the particular in which to immerse itself. I will consider a particular collection-in this case, a collection of Surrealist books and publications. This example will allow for a reading of Benjamins essay on Surrealism alongside his essay on book collecting (both published in the same venue less than two years apart), for which it will be necessary to consider the development and afterlife of Surrealism, and Surrealisms influence on Benjamin.
Benjamin, coffeehouse intellectuals, collecting, Hannah Arendt, object-centered history, Surrealism
Shain, Ralph. "Benjamin and collecting." Rethinking History 20, no. 1 (2016): 52-79.