Walter Benjamin 1938

Curriculum Vitae

Source: Benjamin Archiv TS2371;
Translated: for by Mitchell Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) 2017.

I was born in Berlin on July 15, 1893. After having attended gymnasium and spent two years as a boarder at a Landerziehungsheime, [1] I took my exams in 1912. I then studied philosophy and German and French literature at the universities of Fribourg (Germany), Berlin, Munich, and Berne. It was at the latter university that I took my exam as doctor of philosophy during the summer of 1919. I passed the exam with the mention summa cum laude.

In the following years, I continued my work in philology, criticism, and translation. Alongside the many works I published, particularly in the literary pages of the Frankfurter Zeitung and the Literarische Welt, I wrote a volume on the origins of German tragedy, which was very favorably received by both literary and scholarly critics. A work on Goethe’s Elective Affinities having earned me the attention of Hugo von Hoffmanstahl, he published several of my essays in his Neue Deutsche Beiträge, which was open only to the elite of German writers.

As a translator, I have principally worked on Baudelaire and Marcel Proust. I have published several volumes of Proust’s great work in collaboration with Franz Hessel.[2]

Having long been interested in bibliographic research, at the request of a great German collector I undertook a bibliography of works written or translated by the philosopher and physician [Georg Christoph]Lichtenberg. This book, though completed, has not appeared, due to recent events in Germany.

Finally, I will add that I collaborated on the Encyclopedia Judaica.

Walter Benjamin

1. Private schools that were more progressive and child-centered than state run schools.

2. Hessel was the basis for the character Jules in the novel and film Jules and Jim.