Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss one of the most celebrated thinkers of the twentieth century. Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) was a German Jewish philosopher, critic, historian, an investigator of culture, a maker of radio programmes and more. Notably, in his Arcades Project, he looked into the past of Paris to understand the modern age and, in The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, examined how the new media of film and photography enabled art to be politicised, and politics to become a form of art. The rise of the Nazis in Germany forced him into exile, and he worked in Paris in dread of what was to come; when his escape from France in 1940 was blocked at the Spanish border, he took his own life.
Esther Leslie Professor of Political Aesthetics at Birkbeck, University of London
Kevin McLaughlin Dean of the Faculty and Professor of English, Comparative Literature and German Studies at Brown University
Carolin Duttlinger Professor of German Literature and Culture at the University of Oxford
Producer: Simon Tillotson