Talk:Walter Benjamin

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I wonder if anyone can point me to the origin for the quotation "It is only for the sake of those without hope, that hope is given to man". The Walter Benjamin "wikiquote" entry attributes the "It is only for the sake of those without hope, that hope is given to us" variation of this quote to him. I am interested in learning relative timelines for each version so that I may give attribution where attribution is most due. Thank you. David Graves []


  • Counsel woven into the fabric of real life is wisdom.
  • Each morning the day lies like a fresh shirt on our bed; this incomparably fine, incomparably tightly woven tissue of pure prediction fits us perfectly. The happiness of the next twenty-four hours depends on our ability, on waking, to pick it up.
  • It is only for the sake of those without hope that hope is given to us.
  • Like someone performing the giant swing on the horizontal bar, each boy spins for himself the wheel of fortune from which, sooner or later, the momentous lot shall fall. For only that which we knew and practiced at age 15 will one day constitute our attraction. And one thing, therefore, can never be made good: having neglected to run away from home. From 48 hours' exposure in those years, as in a caustic solution, the crystal of life's happiness forms.
  • The more antagonistic a person is toward the traditional order, the more inexorably he will subject his private life to the norms that he wishes to elevate as legislators of a future society. It is as if these laws, nowhere yet realized, placed him under obligation to enact them in advance at least in the confines of his own existence. The man, on the other hand, who knows himself to be in accord with the most ancient heritage of his class or nation will sometimes bring his private life into ostentatious contrast to the maxims that he unrelentingly asserts in public, secretly approving his own behavior, without the slightest qualms, as the most conclusive proof of the unshakable authority of the principles he puts on display. Thus are distinguished the types of the anarcho-socialist and the conservative politician.
  • The only way of knowing a person is to love them without hope. (THIS IS IN Einbahnstraße (One Way Street, 1928))
  • To be happy is to be able to become aware of oneself without fright.

Correct quote[edit]

"Only for the sake of the hopeless ones have we been given hope." In the English edition of Walter Benjamin's Selected Writings the quote appears in volume 1, 1913-1926 (Belknap Press, 1996), p. 356. It is the concluding sentence of the essay "Goethe's Elective Affinities," in the translation by Stanley Corngold. The other translation ("It is only for the sake of those without hope that hope is given to us") was done by Herbert Marcuse and quoted in his One-Dimensional Man (Beacon Press, 1964), p. 257. The original is the following: "Nur um der Hoffnungslosen willen ist uns die Hoffnung gegeben."