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ERIC Number: EJ1116756
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 9
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1468-1366
Enlightening City Childhoods: Walter Benjamin's Berlin and Erich Kästner's Dresden
Lathey, Gillian
Pedagogy, Culture and Society, v24 n4 p485-493 2016
Walter Benjamin, cultural critic and philosopher, compiled "Berlin childhood around 1900" (trans. Howard Eiland, 2006) while in exile from Germany in the early 1930s, filtering impressions of a privileged childhood through a politicised adult consciousness. Erich Kästner, journalist, poet, satirist and author of the children's classic "Emil and the detectives" (1929), offered in his "When I was a little boy" (1957, trans. Isabel and Florence McHugh, 1959) a hymn to the lost city of Dresden, the expression of an enduring mother fixation, and a vision of the child's moral responsibility. Both sets of memoirs convey in engaging or poetic prose transcendent sensations of childhood, but are at odds in their underlying purposes. Indeed, Max Pensky has argued that the memories "Kästner wants to preserve as a nourishing light, Benjamin wishes to exploit as an arsenal". Both had a pedagogical purpose, addressed to children and adults respectively. A comparison of selected themes these texts share--anxiety at Christmas and perspectives on the social topography of the city--throws light on commonalities in the representation of the thought processes of two hyper-aware children, as well as on paradoxes inherent in adult reconfigurations of the past.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A