This chapter concerns the role of allegory in Walter Benjamin’s writings, and specifically on the challenge that allegory presents to time as the latter manifests itself by ordering human history. Benjamin develops his allegorical challenge to time in The Origin of German Tragic Drama, his studies of Baudelaire and, most profoundly, the ninth thesis “On the Concept of History.” In the last of these texts, Benjamin’s allegorical presentation of the “new angel” depicts a vision of history without time, a vision in which events occur absent any temporal continuity. In this impossible vision, the critical force of what Benjamin calls the “allegorical intention” emerges.
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