Walter Benjamin Moscow Diary.
Translated by Richard Sieburth, edited by Gary Smith.
Harvard University Press, 160 pages, $25
The periodical October—published by the MIT Press in Cambridge, Massachusetts— recently devoted a whole issue, number 35, to printing a translation of Walter Benjamin’s Moscow Diary, which dates from December 6, 1926 to the end of January, 1927. Now Harvard University has issued the diary in book form. The manuscript lay in the Adorno archives in Frankfurt for many years and was published in German only in 1980. The delay is explained by the publishers’ regard for Asja Lacis, Benjamin’s great love for some five years, who died in Russia in 1979, at the age of eighty-eight. It is hard to see why and how she could have objected to its publication and in what way it could have embarrassed or endangered her. She appears in the diary as a committed...