An impassioned glimpse into the death throes of the German-Jewish tradition can be gleaned from the correspondence between Walter Benjamin, the great literary-social critic who lived in exile in Paris, and Gershom Scholem, scholar of the Jewish mystical tradition who migrated to Palestine in 1923. These close friends might seem totally dissimilar: Benjamin was a Marxist, comrade of Brecht, Scholem a Zionist who found in the Kabbalah the seeds for an anarchist spiritual renewal of Judaism. Yet both exiles sought divine sparks in profound texts and the ruptures of history. Their dialogue on Kafka is instructive: for Benjamin, the Czech writer was a prophet of planetary annihilation, while Scholem read Kafka as a latter-day Jewish gnostic commentator on divine judgment. The letters end in early 1940, a few months before Benjamin fled to the Spanish border and committed suicide. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1989 Release date: 09/01/1989 Genre:
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