A letter describing Walter Benjamin as he appeared in the early months of 1938, when he was living in Paris, captures something essential about the German-Jewish critic and philosopher:
He had nothing of the bohemian about him. In those days, he had a pot belly that protruded slightly. He usually wore an old, halfway sporty tweed jacket with a bourgeois cut, a dark or coloured shirt, and grey flannel trousers. I don’t believe I ever saw him without a tie.
Benjamin led a precarious and nomadic life, moving