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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 dying through suicide at the Franco-Spanish border, pursued via the Nazis, yet lengthy prior to he had traveled to the Soviet Union. His lovely account of that trip is exclusive between Benjamin's writings for the frank, cruel approach he struggles together with his reasons and conscience.

Perhaps the first explanation for his journey used to be his affection for Asja Lacis, a Latvian Bolshevik whom he had first met in Capri in 1924 and who may stay an incredible highbrow and erotic effect on him through the twenties and thirties. Asja Lacis resided in Moscow, eking out a residing as a journalist, and Benjamin's diary is, on one point, the account of his masochistic love affair with this elusive--and fairly 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 in addition to reach at an eventual choice approximately becoming a member of the Communist social gathering. Benjamin's diary paints the difficulty of a author seduced via 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 enormous. Benjamin is without doubt one of the nice twentieth-century physiognomists of town, and his portrait of hibernal Moscow stands beside his fantastic evocations of Berlin, Naples, Marseilles, and Paris. scholars of this rather attention-grabbing interval will locate Benjamin's eyewitness account of Moscow terribly illuminating.

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Benjamin defined this state of affairs in "Disputation bei Meyerhold," GS, IV, pp. 481-483. Moscow Diary sixty three Meyerhold and had had adjustments together with his boss, all touch with the viewers was once misplaced. And while he pulled out his records and attempted to make a couple of concrete justifications for a number of the disputed facets of his construction, his efforts have been not capable of aid. whilst he spoke many folks have been leaving or even Reich observed that it'll now be very unlikely for him to intrude, and prior to Meyerhold used to be entire he got here to take a seat with me. whilst he had eventually concluded, the applause used to be purely scattered. in view that not anything extra or new may possibly now stick to, we did not stay up for the court cases to proceed, yet left as a substitute. January four. My appointment with Kogan used to be set for at the present time. yet Nieman known as up within the morning to notify me that I may still look on the Institute at onethirty, that there has been going to be a journey of the Kremlin. I spent the morning at domestic. 5 or 6 humans have been accumulated on the Institute, all it appears British with the exception of me. Following a slightly unlikable consultant, we proceeded to the Kremlin by means of foot. The velocity used to be brisk, I had the best hassle maintaining; after all, the gang needed to look ahead to me on the front to the Kremlin. the very first thing that moves you contained in the partitions are the exaggeratedly well-maintained exteriors of the govt constructions. i will purely evaluate it to the influence conveyed by means of the structures within the small storybook principality of Monaco, whose citizens are privileged by way of the nearest proximity to their rulers. Even the sunshine colours of the facades, painted in white or creamy yellow, are related. yet while every little thing there takes facets within the pitched play of sunshine and shadow, right here the uniform brightness of the snowfield dominates and the composure of colours is cooler opposed to it. Later, while the sunshine steadily started to wane, the sphere appeared to tackle a good larger expanse. simply past the luminous home windows of the executive structures, the towers and domes have been emerging opposed to the evening sky: defeated monuments status shield on the victors' gates. Bundles of sunshine beamed from vehicle headlights racing throughout the darkish. The horses of the cavalry, who've a wide drill floor right here within the Kremlin, shy of their gentle. Pedestrians steer a tough direction among the vehicles and the skittish horses. lengthy rows of sleighs used for carting off the snow, remoted horsemen. Silent flocks of ravens have settled at the snow. The guards on the Kremlin gate stand watch within the blinding mild, built in daring ochre furs. Above them shines the purple mild that regulates the site visitors passing during the gate. all of the shades of Moscow converge right here prismatically, on the middle of Russian strength. The purple military membership appears to be like out in this expanse. We visited it ahead of leaving the Kremlin. The rooms are vibrant and fresh, they appear to be just a little extra easily and extra austerely maintained than the opposite golf equipment. there are various chess tables within the analyzing room. because of Lenin, who himself used to be a participant, chess has been formally sanctioned in Russia.

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