Walter Benjamin

When my mother—although she was staying at home this evening—came in haste to say goodnight to me, I felt more keenly than ever the gift she laid on my bedspread every evening at this time: the knowledge of those hours which the day still held in store for her, and which I, consoled, took with me into sleep, like the rag doll of old. It was those hours which, secretly, and without her being aware of it, fell into the folds of the coverlet she arranged for me—those hours which, even on evenings when she had to go out, comforted me with their touch, in the form of the black lace of the shawl which she already had over her head. I loved the nearness and the fragrance it bestowed on me. The brief time I had in the shadow of this shawl gladdened me more than the bonbons she promised me, with a kiss, for next morning. When my father then called to her from outside my room, I felt only very proud, as she departed, to be sending her thus arrayed into society. And without quite realizing it, I grasped there in my bed, shortly before falling asleep, the truth of a little enigma: „The later the hour, the lovelier the guests“.

—Walter Benjamin, in Society (extract), Berlin Childhood around 1900, trans. Howard Eiland, Harvard University Press, 2006, pp. 139-140

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