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One-Way Street
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About the Author

Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) was the author of many works of literary and cultural analysis. Michael W. Jennings is Class of 1900 Professor of Modern Languages at Princeton University. Greil Marcus is the author of The Doors, Mystery Train, and other books.

Reviews

The prose in One-Way Street is positively electrified by the historical moment...Far more important than any residues of past literature, however prevalent, are the ways in which One-Way Street ushers in a wholly original literary aesthetics. Its formal daring is unmatched by any of Benjamin's earlier work...One-Way Street is dead set on a new mode of materialism, one that shares with Surrealism an esteem for everyday objects, debris, junk, and dross-for whatever is marginal, marginalized, outmoded, or fleeting. This edition's index testifies to the dizzying thematic diversity of Benjamin's undertaking: children's toys, capital punishment, money, mobs, utopia, fancy goods, misery, souvenirs, beggars, and red neon advertising signs reflected in pools of dirty rain. Form in One-Way Street is no mere envelope, but the very arena in which these objects and phenomena clash and generate their sparks. Benjamin's aphorisms mimic the rhythms of the street, instantiating the experiences most proper to it: distraction, reverie, shock, haste, detour, etc. Scathing critique is mixed with imagistic commentary and surrealistic prose poetry-all broken into shards and scattered like a mosaic of fragments. But however atomized and heterogeneous, the little pieces of One-Way Street pursue a common goal: an idiosyncratic expose on history (specifically, the disintegration of culture) as deciphered in the most concrete of its artifacts and rituals. -- Michael Blum * Los Angeles Review of Books *
One-Way Street is Benjamin's most daring and experimental book; though short, it contains a wide range of genres ranging from aphorisms and political satire to maxims and instructions. -- Carolin Duttlinger * Times Literary Supplement *

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