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On the Ruins of BabelArchitectural Metaphor in German Thought$
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Daniel Purdy

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801476761

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801476761.001.0001

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Benjamin’s Mythic Architecture

Benjamin’s Mythic Architecture

Chapter:
(p.261) 10 Benjamin’s Mythic Architecture
Source:
On the Ruins of Babel
Author(s):

Daniel L. Purdy

Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9780801476761.003.0011

This chapter describes how Walter Benjamin's writing responds to the German philosophical appropriation of Renaissance theory. From the start, Enlightenment revolutionaries looked back to the Vitruvian history of building to uncover a new genealogy of construction. This process began before the French Revolution but became more than a theoretical debate with the emergence of industrial technology. Benjamin's physiognomy of modern industrial cities builds on the architectonic model of correspondences between buildings and humans, intensifying the Renaissance's particular emphasis on the facade as parallel to the face, while allowing for many more differentiations in appearance and function than classical architectonics, which always presumed the existence of a single ideal type.

Keywords:   Walter Benjamin, Renaissance theories, architecture, modern cities, industrial technology, classical architectonics, construction

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