The Arcades Project
Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999. Pictorial boards in an unclipped, mylar-backed dust wrapper featuring a window that frames Benjamin's face. 1073 pages. First American edition. Near Fine.
For those who know this title, no introduction is necessary, and for those who don't, no simple introduction will suffice. In Benjamin's own words, "If this book really expounds something scientifically, then it's the death of the Paris arcades, the decay of a type of architecture. The book's atmosphere is saturated with the poisons of this process; its people drop like flies." A book worth living and dying for. Fine first editions are truly rare. Rag and bone historical prophecy.
"'Here we have a man whose job it is to gather the day's refuse in the capital. Everything that the big city has thrown away, everything that it has lost, everything it has scorned, everything it has crushed under foot he catalogs and collects. He collates the annals of intemperance, the capharnaum of waste. He sorts things out and selects judiciously: he collects like a miser guarding a treasure, refuse which will assume the shape of useful or gratifying objects between the jaws of the goddess of Industry.' This description is one extended metaphor for the poetic method, as Baudelaire practised it. Ragpicker and poet: both are concerned with refuse."