Burrow, Merrick, Farnell, Gary and Jardine, Mick (2004) 'Construction Site': On Reading Benjamin's Arcades. New formations (54). pp. 7-12. ISSN 0950-2378

'This much is certain: the constructive moment means for this book what the philosophers' stone means for alchemy'.1 In this remark Benjamin seems to capture the very essence of the problem that faces the contemporary reader of The Arcades Project. Most obviously, there is the fact of the sheer un-constructed – or at best part-constructed – character of the manuscript, the history and mixed fortunes of which are well documented elsewhere.2 We might begin by asking how we should respond to Benjamin's declaration of the decisive importance of the 'constructive moment' when the text as it arrives before us shows – in the most blunt, empirical way – that, for Benjamin, this moment did not finally arrive.

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