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For many readers, [Benjamin's]…scrupulous attention to detail, this sense that everything can be made to speak, explains [his] force as a writer. His hermeneutic skill is nowhere more evident than in his essay on Goethe's Elective Affinities, the most important previously untranslated article included here. He confronts the novel from several perspectives, using it to illuminate the institution of marriage, the morality of love, and the project of artistic creation. At the same time, the essay offers a powerful—and frankly mystical—image of criticism itself… Esoteric much of the work is, but its originality inspires. If cultural studies is headed back to basics, Benjamin's luminous musings are a rewarding place to start.
— James Surowiecki