The Best Walter Benjamin quotes

Walter Benjamin quotes thumbnail

Few people have had as profound an impact on the field of philosophy as Walter Benjamin. Born in Germany in 1892, Benjamin was a highly respected thinker and writer during his lifetime. His work touched on topics as diverse as art, literature, history, and politics, and he is recognized today as one of the most important thinkers of the 20th century. Despite his prodigious intellect, Benjamin was plagued by depression and self-doubt throughout his life. He committed suicide in 1940, at the age of 48. But even after his death, Benjamin’s ideas continue to inspire and challenge us. In this quotes compilation, we’ll explore the life and work of this fascinating thinker.

Here are the most interesting Books, Knowledge, Time, Writing, Life, Thinking quotes from Walter Benjamin, and much more.


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About Walter Benjamin

birth of the author

15 July 1892

death of the author

26 September 1940

deathcause of the author

Cause Of Death:
Suicide By Morphine Overdose

date of the author

20Th-Century Philosophy

country of the author

Western Philosophy

movement of the author

Continental Philosophy Western Marxism Marxist Hermeneutics

occupation of the author

Main Interests:
Literary Theory, Aesthetics, Philosophy Of Technology, Epistemology, Philosophy Of Language, Philosophy Of History

knownfor of the author

Notable Ideas:
Auratic Perception, Aestheticization Of Politics, The Flรขneur


To a book collector, you see, the true freedom of all books is somewhere on his shelves. โ€” Walter Benjamin

Books and harlots have their quarrels in public. โ€” Walter Benjamin

Writers are really people who write books not because they are poor, but because they are dissatisfied with the books which they could buy but do not like. โ€” Walter Benjamin

How many cities have revealed themselves to me in the marches I undertook in the pursuit of books! โ€” Walter Benjamin

to a book collector you see the true freedom of all books is somewhere on his shelves Walter Benjamin quote

Genuine polemics approach a book as lovingly as a cannibal spices a baby. โ€” Walter Benjamin

We collect books in the belief that we are preserving them when in fact it is the books that preserve their collector. โ€” Walter Benjamin

You could tell a lot about a man by the books he keepsโ€“his tastes, his interest, his habits. โ€” Walter Benjamin

Books, too, begin like the weekโ€“with a day of rest in memory of their creation. The preface is their Sunday. โ€” Walter Benjamin

I am unpacking my library. Yes I am. The books are not yet on the shelves, not yet touched by the mild boredom of order. โ€” Walter Benjamin

books and harlots have their quarrels in public Walter Benjamin quote

Like ultraviolet rays memory shows to each man in the book of life a script that invisibly and prophetically glosses the text. โ€” Walter Benjamin


Ownership is the most intimate relationship that one can have to objects. Not that they come alive in him; it is he who lives in them. โ€” Walter Benjamin

The construction of life is at present in the power of facts far more than convictions. โ€” Walter Benjamin

Counsel woven into the fabric of real life is wisdom. โ€” Walter Benjamin

The destructive character lives from The feeling, not that life is worth living, but that suicide is not worth The trouble. โ€” Walter Benjamin

the construction of life is at present in the power of facts far more than convictions Walter Benjamin quote

Thus there is in the life of a collector a dialectical tensions between the poles of disorder and order. โ€” Walter Benjamin


All human knowledge takes the form of interpretation. โ€” Walter Benjamin

Truth resists being projected into the realm of knowledge. โ€” Walter Benjamin

Knowledge, he realized, ‘was obtained rather by the use of the ear than of the tongue. โ€” Walter Isaacson

In the fields with which we are concerned, knowledge comes only in flashes. The text is the thunder rolling long afterward. โ€” Walter Benjamin

all human knowledge takes the form of interpretation Walter Benjamin quote

Melancholy betrays the world for the sake of knowledge. But in its tenacious selfโ€“absorption it embraces dead objects in its contemplation, in order to redeem them โ€” Walter Benjamin


The more circumspectly you delay writing down an idea, the more maturely developed it will be on surrendering itself. โ€” Walter Benjamin

Never stop writing because you have run out of ideas. โ€” Walter Benjamin

Of all the ways of acquiring books, writing them oneself is regarded as the most praiseworthy method. โ€” Walter Benjamin

Never stop writing because you have run out of ideas. Fill the lacunae of inspiration by tidily copying out what is already written. โ€” Walter Benjamin

never stop writing because you have run out of ideas Walter Benjamin quote

Literature tells very little to those who understand it. โ€” Walter Benjamin


Allegories are, in the realm of thought, what ruins are in the realm of things. โ€” Walter Benjamin

Redundant Thematics

In Walter Benjamin Statements


Thinking involves not only the flow of thoughts, but their arrest as well. โ€” Walter Benjamin

When another asserted something that I thought an error, I denied myself the pleasure of contradicting him. โ€” Walter Isaacson

Let no thought pass incognito, and keep your notebook as strictly as the authorities keep their register of aliens. โ€” Walter Benjamin

allegories are in the realm of thought what ruins are in the realm of things Walter Benjamin quote

You follow the same paths of thought as before. Only, they appear strewn with roses. โ€” Walter Benjamin

Freud’s fundamental thought, on which these remarks are based, is formulated by the assumption that ‘consciousness comes into being at the site of a memory trace. โ€” Walter Benjamin

Historical materialism has every reason to distinguish itself sharply from bourgeois habits of thought. Its founding concept is not progress but actualization. โ€” Walter Benjamin

The concept of progress must be grounded in the idea of catastrophe. That things are ‘status quo’ is the catastrophe โ€” Walter Benjamin


There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism. โ€” Walter Benjamin

for every second of time was the strait gate through which the messiah might enter Walter Benjamin quote

It is in a small village in the Pyrenees where no one knows me 7that my life will come to a close…. There is not enough time remaining for me to write all the letters I would like to write. โ€” Walter Benjamin

For every second of time was the strait gate through which the Messiah might enter. โ€” Walter Benjamin

Unlimited goodwill. Suspension of the compulsive anxiety complex. The beautiful ‘character’ unfolds. All of those present become comically iridescent. At the same time one is pervaded by their aura. โ€” Walter Benjamin

The present, which, as a model of Messianic time, comprises the entire history of mankind in an enormous abridgment, coincides with the stature which the history of mankind has in the universe. โ€” Walter Benjamin

The nourishing fruit of the historically understood contains time as a precious but tasteless seed. โ€” Walter Benjamin

Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be. โ€” Walter Benjamin

Wasting Life?


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