Walter Bendix Schönflies Benjamin was a German-Jewish Marxist philosopher-sociologist, literary critic, translator and essayist. He was at times associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory. His Marxism was more influenced by Bertolt Brecht, who had developed his own critical aesthetics, which asked for the emotional distancing of the spectator (Verfremdungseffekt). An important earlier influence and friend was Gershom Scholem, who founded the modern, academic study of the Kabbalah and of Jewish mysticism. Over the last half-century the regard for his work and its influence have risen dramatically, making Benjamin one of the most important twentieth century thinkers about literature and about modern aesthetic experience.
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