'I really want to find it before I die': why are we so fascinated by lost books?
In June 1940, with Nazi troops on the verge of invading Paris, German-Jewish exile Walter Benjamin was preparing to leave the city. One of the leading European intellectuals of the 20th century, Benjamin was unable to acquire the necessary documents that would have made it possible for him to escape through the port city of Marseille. Instead, he joined other refugees trekking through the mountains into Spain, making their way to Lisbon where they’d fly out. Slowing Benjamin down was a heavy black suitcase, which contained a manuscript. Speaking to another traveller, Benjamin described the contents as more valuable than his own life.