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Walter Benjamin's Grave

Walter Benjamin's Grave

A Profane Illumination

Chapter:
(p.3) 1 Walter Benjamin's Grave
Source:
Walter Benjamin's Grave
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226790008.003.0001

This chapter discusses the experience of Hannah Arendt, who came looking for Walter Benjamin's grave a few months after he died in the Hotel de Francia in Port Bou on the border between Spain and France but found nothing. She wrote Gershom Scholem shortly afterwards, “his name was not written anywhere.” Scholem was not impressed. Years later he seemed downright dismissive, bringing his book-length memoir of Benjamin to an end with these words: “Certainly the spot is beautiful, but the grave is apocryphal.” It was an abrupt and sour note on which to end the story of a life, as if the dead man had been cheated of an ending, and what one had gotten instead was a suspension, a book whose last page was missing. Benjamin's name was not written anywhere, Arendt had informed Scholem. Yet name or no name, she found the place where he was supposed to have been buried to be overwhelming.

Keywords:   Hannah Arendt, Walter Benjamin, Walter Benjamin's grave, Gershom Scholem, grave

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