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The Gutenberg Galaxy Paperback – July 31, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division; Centennial ed edition (July 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 144261269X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442612693
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #266,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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)

About the Author

Marshall McLuhan (1911 - 1980) was a literature scholar and the founder of the Centre for Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto.


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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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I consider it essential reading for the educated reader.
Fr. Charles Erlandson
How Professor McLuhan ever foresaw the effects of technology on out society so clearly is forever a mystery; but we should be glad that he did!
Dulouz@aol.com
The book is thoroughly historical, dense and rich in informative detail.
Vinay Varma

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Allen Smalling TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
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.
Allen; charless@ync.net
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Vinay Varma on July 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
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 By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
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 By John David Ebert on June 19, 2007
Format: Paperback
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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