How many cities have revealed themselves to me in the marches I undertook in the pursuit of books!” – Walter Benjamin: “Unpacking my Library”. I am unpacking . 24 Aug Last night, in the midst of moving books all over my house, I took the opportunity to revisit Walter Benjamin’s essay “Unpacking My Library. 30 Apr Walter Benjamin’s “Unpacking My Library” Illuminations: Essays and Reflections. Ed. Hannah Arendt. Schocken Books; New York,

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Mabel Rosenheck is a doctoral candidate in media studies at Northwestern University. You are commenting using your WordPress.

Reflections on Walter Benjamin’s “Unpacking My Library” on the Occasion of Unpacking My Library

This or librry other procedure is merely a dam against the spring tide of memories which surges toward any collector as he contemplates his possessions.

It came with me from Connecticut to Philadelphia and followed me through 4 different apartments there. To find out more, including how to control cookies, see here: In his essay Unpacking My Library he takes a serious if not humorous look at the act of collecting and the relationship between the collector and his or her possessions.

We pay every one! During my visit, I bought a small pile of books—probably 4 or 5, maybe half a dozen—but my benjjamin of what they were is hazy.

It was founded in by Peter D. Indeed, in a Benjaminian sense, I like them because I can see the curator and the collector in the way he writes about his objects and, of course, in the objects themselves. Blake, Keats, Whitman for Ginsberg. One of the things I love most about City Lights is how it lives and breathes. You should know that in saying this I fully realize that my discussion of the mental climate of collecting will confirm many of you in your conviction that this passion is behind the times, in your distrust of the collector type.


A Talk about Book Collecting. Also, auctions can allow collectors to get carried away with winning the bid. Not that they come alive in him; it is he who lives in them. To find out more, including how to control cookies, see here: Cities he visited, rooms he occupied. This is emphasized when Benjamin suggests that most books in a library are not actually read by the owner.

For what else is this collection but a disorder to which habit has accommodated itself to such an extent that it can appear as order?

There are first, second and third editions of Howl. So, like Walter Benjamin, rather than the book being defined by what it says, by what is written inside, the book is defined for me by where it comes from and who I was when I bought it. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: We Wrote a Book! Not that they come alive in him; it is he who lives in them. Notify me of new posts via email. This one offers many of the same tomes as City Lights including multiple editions of On the Road and the familiar 5 inch pocket poets edition of Howlbut unlike City Lights, alongside brand new books the Beat Museum sells vintage volumes too.

I have a shelf reserved for my teachers over the years: Kiersten said, on June 1, at 1: By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use. By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use. Notify me of new comments via email. For a collector’s attitude toward his possessions stems from an owner’s feeling of responsibility toward his property. This is not, however, to discount the coolness of my other sister, also older, who lent me her ID to get my lip pierced when I visited her in the otherwise more mundane city of Providence, Rhode Island.


In this way, to paraphrase Benjamin, our books do not live in us; we live in our books. I cannot march up and down their ranks to pass them in review before a friendly audience. Schocken Books; New York, You are commenting using your Facebook account. I am unpacking my library. I only hope that someone will see in these orphaned books what I saw in them when I had world enough and time to collect without limit.

The inspiration for this essay was the act of unpacking his library after its two-year storage. You have all heard of people whom the loss of their books has turned into invalids, or of those who in order to acquire them became criminals. You are commenting using your Twitter account.

For such a man is speaking to you, and on closer scrutiny he proves to be speaking only about himself. How many cities have revealed themselves to me in the marches I undertook in the pursuit of books!

Walter Benjamin on book collecting

This concept turns every author into a collector who is unhappy with what is currently available and while its an unexpected concept it has whimsical merit. Notify me of new comments via email.

Apart benjamih buying books in stores auctions are another arena for buying books but this can be more dangerous as the collector needs to pay attention not only to the books but also to other bidders. These things overshadow the functional, utilitarian aspect of the object.

Not necessarily in that order.