Illuminations | Study Guide

Walter Benjamin

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Walter Benjamin

Years Published

1955, 1968





At a Glance

Illuminations consists of 10 essays by Walter Benjamin, a literary critic and cultural studies commentator. These essays offer a unique perspective on the development of modernism in the later 19th and early 20th centuries. Modernism witnessed a widespread rejection in the early 20th century of traditional forms, themes, and styles in literature and the visual and performing arts. Benjamin, who lived through this shift, wrote penetratingly about modernism's origins and essential characteristics.

About the Title

The title Illuminations means "clarifications" or "elucidations." The essays were gathered and published posthumously. According to Hannah Arendt, the editor of the collection, Walter Benjamin had approved of this title.


This study guide for Walter Benjamin's Illuminations offers summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.

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