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Critique of Everyday Life

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  510 ratings  ·  25 reviews
Henri Lefebvre's magnum opus: a monumental exploration of contemporary society.

Henri Lefebvre's three-volume Critique of Everyday Life is perhaps the richest, most prescient work by one of the twentieth century's greatest philosophers. Written at the birth of post-war consumerism, the Critique was a philosophical inspiration for the 1968 student revolution in France and is
Paperback, 283 pages
Published February 17th 2008 by Verso (first published 1947)
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Feb 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-bought
I'm very impressed that Volume 1 (273 pages) of the three-part "Critique of Everyday Life" is basically the introduction to the series. Henri Lefebvre does not fool around. One of the first books to focus on the consumption of the 20th-century individual, and how one is placed in such a world. Lefebvre is in good terms with literature, cinema, and history in marking his critical stance in how systems rule the world in such a manner that leaves citizens alienated even in their own culture. His wr ...more
Nicolás Rivas
Nov 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Everyone, in its quest to make sense out of this skydive-without-parachute experience called 'life', creates a personal mythology. We elaborate, some with more craft than others, a divine collage of our own history and social ideas that carefully hides the unbearable senselessness of existence. The social aspect of this is, in brevity, a collection of doctrines, usually condensed in words that Plato would love to show us we don't really understand, but that anyway have a profound influence on ou ...more
Jun 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: urban-stuff
this is really interesting, forward thinking stuff. the thing is, it is not written like philosophy. it is somewhat stream of consciousness, leaving a ton of room for interpretation. which is why it's still important, since every lefty academic thinks they get it since it can be interpreted in whatever form of neo-post-whatever they like. worth reading for the digs at existentialism and sartre alone, though.
C. Quabela
Aug 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What I found most intriguing about this work is in how, as a “critique of everyday life,” Lefebvre is trying not to dispel but deepen everyday life. I had been much taken by Surrealism in my early twenties but became disillusioned by it without quite understanding why. As presented here, it is in its denial of quotidian existence, in its search for an other than. No, it is already here. In what we already have. I really liked how Lefebvre asks us to revitalize writers like Kierkegaard and Baudel ...more
Henri Lefebvre kind of invented cultural studies with this book, in 1947! Lefebvre is circuitous, contradictory, poetic, sharp and savvy with a perceptive eye for the ordinary as the essence of an issue. The 'Foreword', about 100 pages long, is a superb introduction to his work and ideas with excellent explorations of work and leisure, of alienation, and of the importance of Bertold Brecht and Charlie Chaplin to left-of-centre political struggles. He makes a powerful case throughout for the impo ...more
Daniel Amaral
Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I remember I picked up this book because I wanted to know how to overcome the first step in fighting back against the system of capitalism, and what it is that ought to be targeted. According to Lefebvre, it is the alienation from our work, people, time, activity, and our minds. And I agree with him, alienation, or in other words how capitalism dehumanizes us from the human experience is why people will cling to their ideologies, and some even insist a love of capitalism. Like how Lefebvre argu ...more
Patrick Higgins
Henri Lefebvre’s first volume to his “Critique of Everday Life” often swerves between enlightening and frustrating. Between fascinating insights and revolutionary possibilities (Lefebvre’s thoughts on the Festival and Fetishization are excellent) are excessively venomous polemics and a tendency to justify views by throwing around the term “Marxist Dialectic.” Lefebvre’s tirades against the surrealists and the existentialists can be shallow at best, and hypocritical at worst. His writing about ru ...more
Jan 12, 2008 added it
There's really two parts to this volume: a 100-page Foreword added in 1958, and the book proper (which is only another 150 pages), which was written in 1947. The foreword is a bit strange and uneven. I liked the discussions of Chaplin and Brecht, which introduce Lefebvre's idea of the "reverse image," which I'd someday like to properly compare to Benjamin's dialectical images (both are notions of image in which the contradictions of a system are embodied and can be made visible, but there are im ...more
Feb 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lefebvre decries the capitalsit condition of the cult of individualism and the fragmentation of society. We are shown that alienation and mystified consciousness plague humanity, dissolving all sense of community. Broken into six easily digestible chapters with a lengthy forward, The Critique of Everyday Life aims to rebuild that lost community where man was not atomized and social functions, such as festivals, were not perfunctory and corresponded to the sacred. Beginning with avant-garde liter ...more
Dec 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
(8/10) Despite the title, this is not so much a critique of everyday life as a groundwork for such a critique, and in the process of laying that groundwork Lefebvre creates a fundamentally new conception of the social sciences. I'm still trying to wrap my head around some of it, but I think this is an area that political thought plays far too little attention to. Most of the Big Issues seem to be about exceptional events, whereas the everyday motions of our lives seem to be taken for granted whe ...more
Dec 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2014
Review of Volume 1 (which the cover above corresponds to):

For some reason at some point I'd gathered the impression that Lefebvre's work was difficult, even impenetrable. How utterly false! On the contrary, his style is lucid, swift, even poetic and beautiful in places. His particular views of the tasks of criticism, and the necessity of reimagining and re-creating our ways of analysis and the creation of meaning are well expressed and still carry some great weight.

A real
Oliver Bateman
Apr 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Lefebvre's classic text is anything but rigorous formal philosophy, and his proposed solution to the ills of the world ("think more about everything, transform the everyday rather than transcending it, disdain the fantastic") is the sort of characteristic mushy rah-rah stuff even the greatest minds seem to settle on...but man, the journey to the end is entertaining (his "Notes Written One Sunday" is hilarious). This book, for good or ill, will remain lodged firmly in mind as I muddle through my ...more
Dec 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: street-academia
The first in an epic 3-part series, Lefebvre suggests a new field of study- everyday life. His approach is far less rigid than typical Marxist approaches. But like similar Marxist takes (Trotsky's approach to culture, for instance) he's interest in studying everyday culture in order to transform and improve the daily life of society, not simply to chronicle society's approach. In his first attempt, he's outlining that approach, and defending it -- maybe too much so -- from possible critics on th ...more
Bob Reutenauer
Aug 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Verso just put out a beautifully done paperback edition that includes all three volumes of this masterpiece of post war social theory. Volume 1 was finished in 1945. Last 4-5 pages conclude this volume with penetrating, lyrical, easy to follow summary of the key tool.. dialectics.. and the core problem.. alienation.
Need to go back and take notes, and keep them close. Enough said.
Jan 04, 2014 rated it liked it
Have been thinking about reading this book for a long time, but it seems to be not as good as I expected. The argument is a bit vague and discrete. For dialectic analysis, I would recommend reading Durkheim.
Apr 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The thing is, this book is really important--it is just that the ideas have been really watered down by the past sixty years. I'm pretty sure the author did not intend to encourage a bunch of self described revolutionaries to take of puppeteering, but I could be wrong. I usually am.
Feb 22, 2009 rated it it was ok
You guys, help. I hate theory SO MUCH.
Oğuzcan Önver
Sep 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
İsyan Devrim Lefebvre!
Dec 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book. Lefebvre is smarter than the run of the mill philosophers
May 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
lagi butuh buku ini...
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Henri Lefebvre was a French sociologist, Marxist intellectual, and philosopher, best known for his work on dialectics, Marxism, everyday life, cities, and (social) space. He coined the slogan "the right to the city".
“What we will criticize 'modern' eroticism for is its lack of genuine sensuality, a sensuality which implies beauty or charm, passion or modesty, power over the object of desire, and fulfilment.” 14 likes
“Our search for the human takes us too far, too 'deep', we seek it in the clouds or in mysteries, whereas it is waiting for us, besieging us on all sides. We will not find it in myths — although human facts carry with them a long and magnificent procession of legends, tales and songs, poems and dances. All we need do is simply to open our eyes, to leave the dark world of metaphysics and the false depths of the 'inner life' behind, and we will discover the immense human wealth that the humblest facts of everyday life contain.” 7 likes
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