|About the Book|
For decades, Gershom Scholem kept these diaries locked away, returning to them only to refresh his memory of past events and eloquent observations. They remained unread by others until the meticulously edited German edition of this book appeared in 2002.Lamentations of Youth gives insight into a crucial stage in Scholems life, beginning when he was a student in Berlin during the First World War, a time of incubation and growth for his later ideas. Much of the journal writing, however, took place in Switzerland, a magnet for radical artists, socialist intellectuals, and revolutionaries fleeing war. The diaries are where Scholem forges his anarchic orthodoxy, and where he chronicles his intense relationship with Walter Benjamin. Many entries have the crisp quality of literary aphorisms crafted in the great German tradition of Kafka and Canetti.For Scholem and Benjamin, the time they spent together in Switzerland spawned an astoundingly original view of literary criticism, interpretation, and cultural transmission. More personally, the themes of friendship, love, and heartbreak that dominate these pages later reemerge in Scholems scholarship. No longer is the inner life of the critic seen as distinct from his textual criticism--they are deeply and esoterically intertwined.