Walter Benjamin's Grave

Walter Benjamin's Grave

Michael Taussig

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226790039

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

In September 1940, Walter Benjamin committed suicide in Port Bou on the Spanish–French border when it appeared that he and his traveling partners would be denied passage into Spain in their attempt to escape the Nazis. In 2002, the author visited Benjamin's grave in Port Bou. The result is an essay about the cemetery, eyewitness accounts of Benjamin's border travails, and the circumstances of his demise, the most recent of eight revelatory essays collected in this volume. Although thematically these essays run the gamut—covering the monument and graveyard at Port Bou, discussions of peasant poetry in Colombia, a pact with the devil, the peculiarities of a shaman's body, transgression, the disappearance of the sea, New York City cops, and the relationship between flowers and violence—each shares the author's brand of storytelling, one that depends on an appreciation of objects and things as a way to retrieve deeper philosophical and anthropological meanings.