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The Gutenberg Galaxy [Kindle Edition]

Marshall McLuhan
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The Gutenberg Galaxy catapulted Marshall McLuhan to fame as a media theorist and, in time, a new media prognosticator. Fifty years after its initial publication, this landmark text is more significant than ever before.

Readers will be amazed by McLuhan’s prescience, unmatched by anyone since, predicting as he did the dramatic technological innovations that have fundamentally changed how we communicate. The Gutenberg Galaxy foresaw the networked, compressed ‘global village’ that would emerge in the late-twentieth and twenty-first centuries — despite having been written when black-and-white television was ubiquitous.

This new edition of The Gutenberg Galaxy celebrates both the centennial of McLuhan’s birth and the fifty-year anniversary of the book’s publication. A new interior design updates The Gutenberg Galaxy for twenty-first-century readers, while honouring the innovative, avant-garde spirit of the original. This edition also includes new introductory essays that illuminate McLuhan’s lasting effect on a variety of scholarly fields and popular culture.

A must-read for those who inhabit today’s global village, The Gutenberg Galaxy is an indispensable road map for our evolving communication landscape.

Editorial Reviews


'One of the most stimulating and important books that has been written in our time.'

(Saturday Night)

'Endlessly stimulating, informative, and liberating.'

(The Observer Weekend Review)


'Endlessly stimulating, informative, and liberating.' -- The Observer Weekend Review 'The book that helped establish McLuhan as the original media guru.' -- The New York Times 'Think of anything and you can now get your fill of multimedia feedback and facts at the press of a button. McLuhan saw this coming, and wrote about its impact on us as individuals and members of the "global village" in The Gutenberg Galaxy. Revisiting it ... is a revelation.' -- Nigel Beale The Guardian

Product Details

  • File Size: 6759 KB
  • Print Length: 305 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B00551IQI2
  • Publisher: University of Toronto Press (August 8, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0085AQREA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #111,211 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
73 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars McLuhan - As Always, Brilliant February 2, 2000
One can almost think of "The Gutenberg Galaxy" as the "prequel" to Marshall McLuhan's much better known "Understanding Media," because "Galaxy" does for print techology what "Media" does for electronic technology. Basically McLuhan assesses how European civilization went from an ear-touch (listening) oriented mode of receving information to an eye-oriented (that is, reading) mode of receiving information. Recalling that for McLuhan, the medium IS the message, so the invention and dissemination of printing-press technology and the sharp rise in literacy it occasioned therefore brought about a major seismic shift in Western thought and all that goes with it--language, mores, dress, politics, etc.
Another way of looking at this is to say that in McLuhan's view, history is not determined by politics or economics or weather or science per se so much as by our media--the "extensions of man." This book is a must-read followup to anyone who liked "Understanding Media"; it's also a great book to cut one's teeth on before reading "Understanding Media" because it's a more traditional (i.e., formal and linear) type of academic work. And undeniably brilliant. For what it's worth, I was a communications major at the University of Virginia in the mid-1970s when reading McLuhan's work was rougher than it is now; many of his concepts like "global village" have since filtered thru society. But I read all of McLuhan's media-oriented writings, wrote term papers on him, and feel as though I benefited as a result--he's the main reason I'm a writer today.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
This book expands on the views of McLuhan's teacher Harold Innis, who distingusihed oral and written cultures. The book argues that oral cultures are synaesthetic and work with synthetic logic, while cultures of writing push the mind toward singulation of senses, logic and 'perspective'.

McLuhan 'glosses' through a wide range of scattered historical pieces of information to show how oral, written and print cultures have different patterns. He ably shows how printing also transformed art, architecture, society and industry.

The book is thoroughly historical, dense and rich in informative detail. It forms the foundation for McLuhan's clearer theoretical articulation of his ideas in 'Understanding Media', but is more accessible to the layman.

This book belongs to a pantheon of books that revolve around similar ideas like Harold Innis's 'Empire and Communications' & 'The Bias of Communication'; Walter J. Ong's 'Orality and Literacy' and William J. Ivins's 'Print and Visual Culture' and 'Art and Geometry'. But this is the most sweeping, convincing, dramatic statement of the common theory proposed by these various writers.

And for those who love theory with a dose of history, this makes for really delightful reading.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A reader's reservation January 16, 2005
Other Amazon readers have commented that this is McLuhan's most accessible early work, and one called it a ' pre-quel' to 'Understanding Media' the work he is best known for. I remember reading this work with a mixture of amazement and bafflement, with a sense that something truly significant was being said without my being sure that I got it. The literary critic McLuhan as cultural critic was making all kinds of connections, and using all kinds of sources I knew nothing about. The whole business of the era of print, being the era of the eye of the spectator and passive audience, and the previous era being one of the ear did really go down well with me. The implication that the activity I most loved, reading. was in some sense about to be put in a lesser place by the new electronic communication did not please me at all. For as I understood it,and in a way still understand it ' reading' is the activity which really requires creative participation if it is to be done right, and the ' electronic watching television' requires much , much less.

But despite my objection I understood that McLuhan was saying startling new( for me anyway) things in a brilliant way. He was connecting fields of endeavor exhibiting a kind of thinking, I could only admire. I might not understand the epigrammatic flashes he scatters throughout the work but I had a sense of them being deep and profound. In another sense it was clear to me McLuhan was the cultural critic who himself is a remarkable kind of creator.

Now it is over forty years since this book was published and we live in an Internet era in which the degree of participation of individuals in producing material for a wider public is far greater than before.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars McLuhan's Most Difficult Book June 19, 2007
The Gutenberg Galaxy, McLuhan's second book, is one of his best, but the reader should be forewarned that it is also one of his most difficult to read and does not make a good introduction for the beginner. One of the reasons for this difficulty is that it is written in mosaic style, in which McLuhan -- like Walter Benjamin's Arcades Project -- creates a text that is largely composed of quotations from mostly obscure authors stitched together with his own commentaries in between. These quotations are from works written in classical academic style, and none of them are easy reading. They require concentration and the book itself takes time to read carefully.

The book is a cultural archaeology of the effects of the rise of print upon Western society in the period between 1450 - 1850. It is concerned with analyzing the new kinds of social and cultural structures which typography brought into being, such as nationalism, the concept of individuality, the idea of authorship and intellectual private property, new genres such as the literary essay and the novel. The rise of the printing press, McLuhan points out, was coincident with the rise of the mastery of depth perspective in Renaissance painting, and this is not an accident, for both the new Euclidean space conception and typography had in common an emphasis upon the organization of the world around the eye favored as a sense organ at the detriment and exlusion of all the other senses. During the manuscript culture of the Middle Ages, the senses were still synesthetically woven together like a tapestry, and no single one of them was favored to quite the degree of exclusion which the favoring of vision brought about in the Renaissance.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Challenging but Very, Very Rewarding Read!
For those interested in the impact "media" has had on the evolution of societal and individual perception and thought, this scholarly book is a must read. Read more
Published 6 months ago by GaryinBoston
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gutenberg Galaxy is the most important of McLuhan's books
To understand the present you have know history. The Gutenberg Galaxy describes what happened to us as humans and to our social organization when writing and the printed word... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A key to understanding our times
Although not an easy reading due to its peculiar topic organization, it is still worth the effort and by the way, I do not think it to be beyond the normal person's... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Carlos Ramos Mattei
2.0 out of 5 stars Very yawny
very dull, and out of date. Mya have been applicable when it was written, but doesn't seem applicable to todays modern technologies.
Published 17 months ago by Cyrus Rivetna
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic insight
Great insight into how media (technology) shapes us, just as it has shaped humanity in the past. Traces some of the impacts of previous media on culture and on the mind itself. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Cicero
3.0 out of 5 stars A sharp mind writing in the early 1960s
Every generation spawns its popular intellectuals who coin a few phrases, get written up in the media and become legends. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Jonathan F. Vernon
5.0 out of 5 stars A Prophetic Masterpiece on How Print Transformed the World
Marshall McLuhan was nothing less than a 20th Century prophet! So much of what he articulated in his various works has come to fruition in the Information Age. Read more
Published on October 27, 2010 by Fr. Charles Erlandson
5.0 out of 5 stars For A Better Understanding of a Paradigm Shift
A useful guide to a better experience of the electronic age by understanding the effect of the printing press on us and our society. Read more
Published on August 13, 2010 by Ruth Ann Barrett
5.0 out of 5 stars neglected masterwok
It is astounding that the great masterwork by Marshall McLuhan The Gutenberg Galaxy is out of print, and not readily available in a new edition that restores its rightful place as... Read more
Published on October 12, 2008 by Sylvan Nathans
5.0 out of 5 stars Shooting probes
This is the first McLuhan book I read, back in the late 1960s. It took me about a month to get through, because each short chapter contained so many new ideas and insights I had to... Read more
Published on September 11, 2006 by Zvi Swerdlove
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