James McFarland: Constellation. Friedrich Nietzsche and Walter Benjamin in the Now-Time of History

Fordham University Press, 2014; 344 pages; ISBN 9780823263097 $50.00 (hardcover), $33.00 (paper)

Constellation is the first extended exploration of the relationship between Walter Benjamin, the Weimar-era revolutionary cultural critic, and the radical philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. The affinity between these noncontemporaneous thinkers serves as a limit case manifesting the precariousness and potentials of cultural transmission in a disillusioned present.

In five chapters, Constellation presents the changing figure of Nietzsche as Benjamin encountered him: an inspiration to his student activism, an authority for his skeptical philology, a manifestation of his philosophical nihilism, a companion in his political exile, and ultimately a subversive collaborator in his efforts to think beyond the hopeless temporality—new and always the same—of the present moment in history.