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Walter Benjamin & Bertolt Brecht: Story of a Friendship?

November 10, 2009

BenjaminAndBrechtThe English translation of Erdmut Wizisla’s formidable study Walter Benjamin and Bertolt Brecht: The Story of a Friendship is published this Autumn by Libris. No-one has a better view of the much disputed relationship between these two figures than Erdmut Wizisla, director of Berlin’s Benjamin and Brecht Archive. Greeting the German edition, Momme Brodersen spoke for many when he wrote: ‘If this book had appeared decades ago, it would have terminated an unproductive debate in one fell swoop: that of the influence – be it fruitful, be it disastrous – of probably the most significant German playwright and poet of the 20th century, Bertolt Brecht, on probably the most significant critic of his day, Walter Benjamin’. Our conference celebrates the book’s publication and explores the ways in which Wizisla’s study augments, challenges or re-constellates previous analyses (most notably the one emanating from that other ‘Story of a Friendship’, published in English in 1982, by Gershom Scholem).

The conference gathers together a number of leading scholars from across the Humanities, including:

Erdmut Wizisla (Berlin), Peter Thompson (Sheffield), Barbara Engh (Leeds), Tony Phelan (Oxford), Esther Leslie (Birkbeck), Chryssoula Kambas (Osnabrück).

Erdmut Wizisla will present and discuss the new edition of Walter Benjamin’s Collected Works – a vast undertaking of re-ordering, re-editing, re-annotating and revealing new materials – whose twenty-one volumes will appear over the course of the next decade.

Peter Thompson (Sheffield) Brecht, Benjamin and the Crisis of Modernity

Chryssoula Kambas (Osnabruck) From West to East: An External Examiner Remembers

Barbara Engh (Leeds) Friendship and Clang Figures

Erdmut Wizisla (Berlin) The Benjamin Archive and the New German Benjamin Edition

Tony Phelan (Oxford) Brecht on Benjamin: On the Philosophy of History

Esther Leslie Constellations and Comradeship

Thanks to the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, London and Backdoor Broadcasting Company

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