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The Gutenberg Galaxy Paperback – July 31, 2011
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‘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)
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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.
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The Gutenberg Galaxy is a great book. This book is the vision of a man who realized that information systems will establish absolute control over society.Published 10 months ago by Rafael Reyes
To understand where we are going as a culture, read McLuhanPublished 13 months ago by M. Duesterhaus
This book exceeds my expectations. Based on how much I have underlined, there is not a page that isn't marked up with wonderful quotes and intellectual insights. Read morePublished 13 months ago by George K Prometheus
It was very useful to study pictures that speak in my university.Published 16 months ago by mayanman
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 morePublished on April 9, 2014 by GaryinBoston