Fire Alarm
Reading Walter Benjamin’s ‘On the Concept of History’
by Michael Löwy Translated by Chris Turner
  • -1
  • 0
  • 1
Paperback with free ebook
$19.95$13.9630% off
160 pages / October 2016 / 9781784786410

Please allow an additional 10–12 days for this book to be dispatched. Please note that this book may ship after other items in your order.

October 2016 / 9781784786434
Hardback with free ebook
160 pages / February 2006 / 9781844670406

Not in stock

This illuminating study of Benjamin’s final essay helps unlock the mystery of this great philosopher

Revolutionary critic of the philosophy of progress, nostalgic of the past yet dreaming of the future, romantic partisan of materialism—Walter Benjamin is in every sense of the word an “unclassifiable” philosopher. His essay “On the Concept of History” was written in a state of urgency, as he attempted to escape the Gestapo in 1940, before finally committing suicide.

In this scrupulous, clear and fascinating examination of this essay, Michael Löwy argues that it remains one of the most important philosophical and political writings of the twentieth century. Looking in detail at Benjamin’s celebrated but often mysterious text, and restoring the philosophical, theological and political context, Löwy highlights the complex relationship between redemption and revolution in Benjamin’s philosophy of history.


“Löwy’s close reading … follows Benjamin’s text thesis-by-thesis, bringing out the salient criticisms of orthodox Marxist discourse and highlighting the interruptions of this discourse, the interruption of the concept of time that is at its foundation, through Benjamin’s insertion of messianic time into the banality of progress.”

“Sensitive to Benjamin’s profound anxiety and the tragic vision of the world, Löwy traces the unfurling of this ‘revolutionary melancholia,’ which is haunted by the recurrence of disasters … It is unusual to explore the depths of a text in this manner, but it is true that we have here the text of an exceptional thinker.”

Verso recommends