Publications and Research

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2013


This paper looks at the role Louis Aragon’s 1926 novel Paris Peasant played in the composition of Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project. How we might theorize the literary appeal of the Arcades Project, as evidenced in contemporary poetry and visual art; and, more broadly, what is the relation between the aesthetics and the philosophy or politics in Benjamin’s text? The model I propose is one of a Bloomian “anxiety of influence.” By looking at Benjamin’s earlier writings and his correspondence with Theodor Adorno and Gershom Scholem, we see not only that Benjamin’s work shared much with Aragon’s brand of Surrealism, but that Benjamin recognized this proximity as problematic. The quotations of the Arcades Project are thus a record of his conscious attempts to forge a separate, or negative, literary space around this influence.


This work was originally published in the Journal of Modern Literature.



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