Walter Benjamin was a radical German philosopher and critic. In the 1920s and 30s his fascination with new technology lead him to create a series of radio broadcasts. No recordings of those broadcasts remain. We don’t even know what Benjamin sounded like, though it has been said he was a talented performer. Benjamin, who was Jewish, committed suicide in 1940 when he became trapped in his attempt to escape the Nazis.
For the first time, the essays Benjamin wrote for radio broadcast have been translated into English by scholar Lecia Rosenthal. The collection includes youth programs, plays, readings and book reviews.
This episode of Speakers Forum presents three of Benjamin’s essays: “Berlin Toy Tour,” “Bootleggers” and “The Lisbon Earthquake.” The readers are Seattle actors Randy Hoffmeyer and Jean Sherrard. Our full podcast features a discussion of the readings and Benjamin’s life with Lecia Rosenthal.
Town Hall and Elliott Bay Book Company presented this reading on November 16, 2014, as part of the Arts & Culture series and ACT Theatre’s Short Stories Live series. Sponsors include City Arts and the Thurston Charitable Foundation.