Ilit Ferber: Philosophy and Melancholy. Benjamin’s Early Reflections on Theater and Language

Stanford University Press. Publ. 2013. 264 PAGES. FROM $24.95. Cloth ISBN: 9780804785198. Paper ISBN: 9780804785204. Digital ISBN: 9780804786645.

This book traces the concept of melancholy in Walter Benjamin’s early writings. Rather than focusing on the overtly melancholic subject matter of Benjamin’s work or the unhappy circumstances of his own fate, Ferber considers the concept’s implications for his philosophy. Informed by Heidegger’s discussion of moods and their importance for philosophical thought, she contends that a melancholic mood is the organizing principle or structure of Benjamin’s early metaphysics and ontology. Her novel analysis of Benjamin’s arguments about theater and language features a discussion of the Trauerspiel book that is amongst the first in English to scrutinize the baroque plays themselves. Philosophy and Melancholy also contributes to the history of philosophy by establishing a strong relationship between Benjamin and other philosophers, including Leibniz, Kant, Husserl, and Heidegger.

Ilit Ferber is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Tel-Aviv University.