[Prague]: Druk H. Mercy, . 8vo,107 pp, stab-stapled and glue bound into violet printed wraps. Front and back panels of wraps detached but present, with the paper covering the spine mostly perished. Marginal annotations in pencil throughout.
The second edition of this privately published and circulated utopian proposal to create an organized intelligentsia and foster human creativity against capitalism. Published around Whitsun in Prague, it includes reactions from readers who had received the first version of the text. A third, publicly published edition would follow later this same year.
The work was written by Viktor Hueber, a former Austrian captain who became a member of the circle which published the short-lived magazine Der Anfang, in which Benjamin published his first poems and essays. Hueber was later associated with Franz Pfemfert’s better known periodical Die Aktion, and early issues of the magazine bore the subtitle “Publikationsorgan der Organization der Intelligenz”, a reference to this work, though subsequent efforts to create an actual organization based on the book’s principles failed due to infighting [Portner, p. 140].
Benjamin discusses the book in a September 15, 1913 letter to Carla Seligsohn, the first person he’d met who had also read the book. “Those of us who understand Hueber feel our youth complete only in the presence of his ideas- the others, who feel noth- ing, are not young. They have simply never been young. They took pleasure in their youth only when it was over, just a memory. They did not know the great joy of its presence, which we are now feeling and which I sense in your words ... But in every individual who is born, no matter where, and turns out to be young, there is, not ‘improvement,’ but perfection from the very start. This is the goal that Heuber so messianically feels is near ... ”
McCole, analyzing this same letter, notes that this appears to be Benjamin’s first use of the term “Messianic” in his writings [McCole, p. 61]. The idea would haunt Benjamin’s subsequent works on history, and reach its conclusion in the second thesis in On the Concept of History, written just before his march into the mountains. “The past carries with it a secret index, by which it is referred to its resurrection. There is an agreement and an appointment between us and the generations of the past. For we have been expected upon this earth. Like the generations before us, we have been given a weak messianic power, which the past can lay claim to. This claim is not to be settled lightly. The historical materialist knows why.”
Rare. OCLC locates only two holdings, and none in North America. The preceding edition is not located in OCLC. Item #25010