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Benjamin, Dante, and the Modernity of the Middle Ages; or, Allegory as Urban Constellation
The Chaucer Review
Vol. 48, No. 4, SPECIAL ISSUE Thinking Historically after Historicism: Essays in Memory of Lee Patterson (2014), pp. 524-541
Published by: Penn State University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5325/chaucerrev.48.4.0524
Page Count: 18
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This article interrogates the categories of modernity and allegory in Walter Benjamin's work. It contrasts the treatment of Baudelaire (the archetypical poet of modernity) in Benjamin's short essay “On Some Motifs in Baudelaire” with the treatment found in his Arcades Project, championing the more complex sense of allegory in the later work. It argues further that Benjamin's sense of allegory in this text is bound to the specific urban experience of the crowd, and that the association of allegory with urban crowds leads Benjamin to discover this constellation in both medieval and modern allegorical representations. The article ends with a reading of Dante's Vita Nuova.
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