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Benjamin's Crossing (Paperback)

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The acclaimed and now-classic biographical novel of Walter Benjamin's last days--adapted into screenplay by Jay Parini.

It is 1940. For the past decade, Walter Benjamin--the German-Jewish critic and philosopher--has been writing his masterpiece in a library in Paris, a city he loves. Now Nazi tanks have overrun the suburbs, and Benjamin is forced to flee. With a battered briefcase that contains his precious manuscript of a thousand handwritten pages, he sets off for the border and is led by chance to a young anti-Nazi who is taking Jews and other refugees over the Pyrenees into Spain, where they may (with luck) make their way to freedom in Portugal or South America.
     Beloved biographical novelist Jay Parini's thrilling tale of escape is beautifully interwoven with vignettes of Benjamin's complex, cosmopolitan past: his privileged childhood in Berlin, his years with the German Youth Movement, his university days. His close friendship with Gershom Scholem, the eminent scholar of Jewish mysticism, and many other well-known artists and intellectuals who were part of Benjamin's intimate circle between the two world wars. Part tragedy, part dark comedy, this sharply realized historical novel tells one of the great and most moving peripheral stories of the Holocaust.

About the Author

JAY PARINI, a poet and novelist as well as biographer, is Axinn Professor of English at Middlebury College. His novels include The Last Station (adapted as an Academy Award-nominated film and translated into more than thirty languages), Benjamin's Crossing, and The Passages of H. M. His poetry includes The Art of Subtraction: New and Selected Poems and the forthcoming New and Collected Poems, 1975-2015. He has written biographies of Robert Frost, John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, and Jesus. Among his nonfiction books are Why Poetry Matters and Promised Land: Thirteen Books That Changed America.

Praise For…

“A piercing, magnificent novel.” —Amos Oz

"Painstakingly researched and dramatically recounted. . . . [Benjamin’s Crossing] has something important to tell us.” —The New York Times Book Review

"Jay Parini has written an exciting ‘adventure story,’ part Chaplin, part Kafka, and wholly emblematic of our dark age.” —Gore Vidal

"Parini’s re-creation of [Walter Benjamin’s] life is a tender, wise and even sadly funny achievement.” —Daily News

"Benjamin’s Crossing is a stunning novel of war, intellectual history, and the great divide civilization crossed in the year 1940. . . . Humorous, profound, and affecting.” —Erica Jong

"Poignant and eloquent.” —Harold Bloom
Product Details
ISBN: 9780525562757
ISBN-10: 0525562753
Publisher: Anchor
Publication Date: February 9th, 2021
Pages: 416
Language: English