Walter Benjamin Reimagined: A Graphic Translation of Poetry, Prose, Aphorisms, and Dreams

Frances Cannon (Artist), Esther Leslie (Professor, Birkbeck, University of London), Scott Bukatman (Professor, Stanford University)

Walter Benjamin Reimagined: A Graphic Translation of Poetry, Prose, Aphorisms, and Dreams
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Walter Benjamin Reimagined: A Graphic Translation of Poetry, Prose, Aphorisms, and Dreams

Frances Cannon (Artist), Esther Leslie (Professor, Birkbeck, University of London), Scott Bukatman (Professor, Stanford University)

An illuminated tour of Walter Benjamin’s ideas; a graphic translation; an encyclopedia of fragments.

Walter Benjamin was a man of letters, an art critic, an essayist, a translator, a philosopher, a collector, and an urban flâneur. In his writings, he ambles, samples, and explores. With Walter Benjamin Reimagined, Frances Cannon offers a visual and literary response to Benjamin’s work. With detailed and dreamlike pen-and-ink drawings and hand-lettered text, Cannon gives readers an illuminated tour of Walter Benjamin’s thoughts-a graphic translation, an encyclopedia of fragments.

Cannon has not created a guide to Benjamin’s greatest ideas – this is not an illustrated Walter Benjamin cheat sheet – but rather a beautifully rendered work of graphic literature. Cannon doesn’t plod through thickets of minutiae; she strolls – a flâneuse herself – using Benjamin’s words and her own drawings to construct a creative topography of Benjamin’s writing. Phrases from “Unpacking My Library,” for example, are accompanied by images of flying papers, stray books, stacked books-books “not yet touched by the mild boredom of order” – and a bearded mage. Cannon takes the reader through different periods of Benjamin’s writing: “Artifacts of Youth,” nostalgic musings on his childhood; “Fragments of a Critical Eye,” early writings, political observations, and cultural criticism; “Athenaeum of Imagination,” meditations on philosophy and psychology; “A Stroll through the Arcades,” Benjamin’s unfinished magnum opus; and “A Collection of Dreams and Stories,” experimental and fantastical writings.

With drawings and text, Cannon offers a phantasmagorical tribute to Benjamin’s wandering eye.    

 

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