Wallstein Verlag

Wolfgang Matz

Bullet in his Body

Walter Benjamin and Rudolf Borchardt: Judaism and German Poetry

172 pages, 12,5 x 21,0 cm
ISBN: 978-3-8353-0946-3 (Juli 2011)


German Version

A new interpretation of Walter Benjamin’s intellectual path.

For decades, Walter Benjamin’s texts have been discussed in the context of the contrast between materialistic and Jewish thought. Meanwhile, little consideration was given to the only sphere which was actually present throughout his entire life, in which he was »quite at home« – i.e. the aesthetic, political, art-religious world that characterised the years before and after the European collapse of 1914-1918, associated with names such as Stefan George, Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Rudolf Borchardt. However critical Benjamin may have been towards this world in the various periods of his life, it was and remained the hidden standard for his way of thinking.
Borchardt (1877 -1945) and Benjamin (1892-1940) did not know one another, did not write to one another, and during the Weimar Republic they belonged to completely different, even opposing camps as far as politics and literature were concerned. One of the most severe criticisms of Borchardt originates from Benjamin’s hand: »Instead of a heart, he has a bullet in his body«. What this judgement actually means, and where it originated from, remained a mystery. And yet even a failed relationship such as this can be revealing if we take a close look at all available sources.

The Author
Wolfgang Matz, born in 1955, taught German and works in a publishing house in Munich. He was awarded the Paul Celan Prize and the Petrarca Prize for his translations of French prose and lyric verse. Publications include: Adalbert Stifter: Sämtliche Erzählungen nach den Erstdrucken (2005); 1857. Flaubert, Baudelaire, Stifter (2007).

Published by Wallstein
Walter Benjamin’s »Deutsche Menschen«, edited by Barbara Hahn and Erdmut Wizisla (2008); Alexander Kissler, »Wo bin ich den behaust?«. Rudolf Borchardt und die Erfindung des Ichs (2003)
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