No writer should go without reading Benjamin’s work, especially The Storyteller (available free here)
Walter Benjamin (pr: Ben-ya-meen) was one of the greatest critical theorists to come out of the turmoil of interwar Europe. As a Jew he fled Nazi Germany and lived in exile all over Europe, then decided to seek refuge in the US after his arrest and imprisonment by the French Vichy government. A problem with transit documents from Fascist Spain meant certain repatriation to Nazi Germany and thus death in an extermination camp. Benjamin chose to commit suicide instead.
Shortly after his suicide the rest of his party gained safe passage to Lisbon.
His death was an unthinkable loss to the theoretical community, yet it was because of his death that we know him at all: a theorist and philosopher whose work had gone completely unrecognized during his lifetime was posthumously edited and published and thus saved from obscurity.
This quote is a great idea to ponder for writers.
Do the architectonic and textile stages mean anything to you as a writer? Do you understand what Benjamin means by approaching prose as musical vs architectonic vs textile, and why he differentiates between composing, building, and weaving?
Most writers stop at stage 1: composition (yes, even published writers). So what do you think Benjamin’s second and third stages add to the process, individually and together, that can’t be achieved through composition alone?
Does it make a difference if your work is literary or genre?
It’s well worth giving yourself a stress headache to wrap your mind around this one.
“Work on good prose has three steps: a musical stage when it is composed, an architectonic one when it is built, and a textile one when it is woven.” – Walter Benjamin