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Cover for Walter Benjamin Reimagined

Walter Benjamin Reimagined

A Graphic Translation of Poetry, Prose, Aphorisms, and Dreams

Frances Cannon, Esther Leslie (Foreword by)


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An illuminated tour of Walter Benjamin's ideas; a graphic translation; an encyclopedia of fragments.

Walter Benjamin was a man of letters, an art critic, an essayist, a translator, a philosopher, a collector, and an urban flâneur. In his writings, he ambles, samples, and explores. With Walter Benjamin Reimagined, Frances Cannon offers a visual and literary response to Benjamin's work. With detailed and dreamlike pen-and-ink drawings and hand-lettered text, Cannon gives readers an illuminated tour of Walter Benjamin's thoughts—a graphic translation, an encyclopedia of fragments.

Cannon has not created a guide to Benjamin's greatest ideas—this is not an illustrated Walter Benjamin cheat sheet—but rather a beautifully rendered work of graphic literature. Cannon doesn't plod through thickets of minutiae; she strolls—a flâneuse herself—using Benjamin's words and her own drawings to construct a creative topography of Benjamin's writing. Phrases from “Unpacking My Library,” for example, are accompanied by images of flying papers, stray books, stacked books—books “not yet touched by the mild boredom of order”—and a bearded mage. Cannon takes the reader through different periods of Benjamin's writing: “Artifacts of Youth,” nostalgic musings on his childhood; “Fragments of a Critical Eye,” early writings, political observations, and cultural criticism; “Athenaeum of Imagination,” meditations on philosophy and psychology; “A Stroll through the Arcades,” Benjamin's unfinished magnum opus; and “A Collection of Dreams and Stories,” experimental and fantastical writings.

With drawings and text, Cannon offers a phantasmagorical tribute to Benjamin's wandering eye.

The MIT Press, 9780262039963, 184pp.

Publication Date: May 7, 2019

About the Author

Frances Cannon is a writer and artist. She is the author and illustrator of the graphic memoir The Highs and Lows of Shapeshift Ma and Big-Little Frank and has published several other books of poems, translations, and artworks. She teaches creative writing at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont and the Shelburne Craft School in Shelburne, Vermont. She received an MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing from the Iowa Writer's Workshop.