Seeking the Universal amid Ruins

Walter Benjamin’s 1922 “Angelus Novus” Journal Announcement 100 Years Later

  • Joseph Cermatori Skidmore College
Parole chiave: Walter Benjamin, Angelus Novus, Total Modernism, 1922, Philosophy of Editing, Critical Theory, Comparative Literature


This paper revisits Walter Benjamin’s unpublished “Announcement of the Journal Angelus Novus,” one of relatively few texts Benjamin is known to have written in 1922, European modernism’s widely recognized annus mirabilis. The announcement followed numerous, transformative essays and fragments of 1921 and was written alongside his dissertation on The Concept of Criticism in German Romanticism, encompassing a pivotal moment in Benjamin’s philosophical maturation. Heralding the new, never realized journal, the announcement articulates what might be deemed “the task of the editor,” which it describes as a quest for “philosophical universality”. The Angelus Novus journal would proceed form the fact of modern social discontinuities toward the elaboration of universal philosophical truths through the criticism of literary works. This paper reconsiders Benjamin’s editorial ambitions as part of his individual philosophical development and within a broader context of “total modernism,” discussing the announcement’s continued relevance for our contemporary world.


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