Walter Benjamin (1892–1940) was a German theorist and philosopher, as well as a literary critic and cultural historian, who was born into an affluent Jewish family. Benjamin suffered from severe depression and—perhaps fearful of capture and deportation back to Germany after leaving the country around the time of Adolph Hitler’s reign of Nazi Germany—committed suicide by way of a morphine overdose in a Spanish hotel. While Benjamin’s departure from Germany and some of his writings were influenced by his political beliefs formulated during a time of lack of individual privacy and security as a German Jew, the majority of his most recognized writings focused on aspects of culture and the media. This entry begins with a brief glimpse of Benjamin’s formative years, followed by examinations ...

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