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ConstellationFriedrich Nietzsche and Walter Benjamin in the Now-Time of History$
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James McFarland

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780823245369

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823245369.001.0001

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(p.167) Chapter Four Collaboration

James McFarland

Fordham University Press

This chapter examines the change in Benjamin's relation to Nietzsche at the start of the 1930s, when political catastrophes forced Benjamin into exile. The Nietzschean figure of the “wanderer” gains a new prominence in Benjamin's understanding of the philosopher, and his book Deutsche Menschen, a montage of 19th century letters between prominent Germans, concludes with a letter to Nietzsche by his friend Franz Overbeck exemplifying a collaborative intellectual reception beyond mutual comprehension. This possibility illuminates the demonic dimension of Benjamin's production, a dimension that finds its most profound representation in his essay on Karl Kraus. The demonic dislocation at the origin of truthful language is Benjamin's echo of Nietzsche's experience of historical dislocation and collapse of authority, a relation epitomized in Brutus's relation to Caesar.

Keywords:   Karl Löwith, Exile, Deutsche Menschen, Karl Kraus, Demon, Julius Caesar

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