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The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  814 ratings  ·  62 reviews
Since its first appearance in 1962, the impact of The Gutenberg Galaxy has been felt around the world. It gave us the concept of the global village; that phrase has now been translated, along with the rest of the book, into twelve languages, from Japanese to Serbo-Croat. It helped establish Marshall McLuhan as the original 'media guru.' More than 200,000 copies are in prin ...more
Paperback, 294 pages
Published March 1st 1962 by University of Toronto Press (first published 1962)
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4.12  · 
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 ·  814 ratings  ·  62 reviews

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Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I wasn’t expecting this to be nearly as good as it was. There are a couple of ideas that are really interesting here. One is that technologies extend our senses and faculties and therefore make us superhuman. So, will we can walk without technology with our legs, the technology of a bike means we can have ‘better’ legs, a train means even more so, and a car more again – with each being a kind of improvement on our ‘legs’. The same is true of what television does for our sight or the telephone fo ...more
I didn't finish this book. It was enough of a slog that I figured I'd muddle my way through it, but intersperse other books along the way, but no. I suddenly came to the realization that I had no idea what I was reading. I'd made it almost 100 pages, and all I had retained from those pages was that he starts the book discussing King Lear, but I don't know why, and that people from literary cultures apparently see differently than people from non-literary cultures. That's all. It was one of those ...more
Stephen Wong
May 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Clearly a work of illumination and like a polished multi-faceted crystal something you can turn around in your hand to try to see more of its brilliance and its light, the reader will derive a sense of the measure of the ratio that has been lost/superseded by what McLuhan refers to as "visual stress" in the outering by the homogenizing technology of print of one of the senses, that is, the gaining of fixed perspective for the price of losing the collective conscious. It exemplifies its own outer ...more
Apr 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: language, philosophy
Basically what McLuhan argues in his book is that the invention and diffusion of Gutenberg's printing process marked the passage from a balanced kind of linguistic communication - where each sense was taken account of - to a tiranny of its visual component. Mobile characters, with their easy and quick reproducing capability, therefore, inadvertently brought us to cultural homogeneity and repetitivness.
This essay was first published in the early 60's and I found it an interesting and stimulating
Henrique Maia
In some sense, this is a difficult book. Its main theme is interesting in itself, but as the title points out, it’s a Galaxy, or a myriad of connections that are simply to great to properly grasp it fully. If we take the analogy of the galaxy even further, it becomes obvious that even McLuhan’s analysis of the Gutenberg influence in Western culture is somewhat doomed to failure: we are simply too close to its effects, too deep inside it, to understand it clearly — just like trying to understand ...more
Sep 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was a fun and inspiring book, and there were points at which I would have considered just giving it five stars despite some of its obvious flaws and the fact that it is quite dated. I really like the way that McLuhan constructs his narrative by quoting other writers and commenting on the quoted material. I found this to be wonderfully transparent and to give a sense of the relative weight of each author in relation to McLuhan's thought. It sometimes felt like I was reading the most enjoyabl ...more
I grew up with parents who quoted "the medium is the message" and used it as part of our answering machine message, but never read any McLuhan till this one. And it isn't even the book with that quotation! Nevertheless, this was fascinating, enlightening, and challenging. A mosaic, as he calls it, of the ways that humankind and cultures have reacted to the introduction of writing -- and then the introduction of the printing press. I can see how this was revolutionary and I can also see why I did ...more
This is my first book-length foray into the world of Marshall McLuhan, and I feel very torn about this book. While it seems reductionist at points (setting up a number of not-necessarily-true binary oppositions), it seems to pretty much "get it right." I agree with his main statement that we are all "typographic people," and I think this is a good lead-in to further studies in media.
Aug 20, 2016 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: illiterates
Shelves: media, history
McLuhan is to information what a centrifuge is to salad: you're going to see the same quotes and the same analogies and the same aphorisms pass by in slightly different contexts to stress slightly different things. This time around, there's less focus on literary criticism and more on general philosophical and scientific advances.
Mike Hayden
Jul 26, 2017 rated it did not like it
I think McLuhan has not aged very well and wonder about his relevance to media studies today. The scholars he quotes and then misinterprerates are at times more interesting than his own ideas.
Robert Cross
Nov 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
The printing press created mass ideology. True enough.
Tvrtko Balić
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is not without flaws. In being so focused on the given topic of how literacy and the way we communicate information effect our way of thinking, it creates a narrative which subjugates everything to the spread of the written word and ignores the wider cultural, linguistic, racial etc. context of various phenomena. There are also some things that the author apparently just doesn't understand, like how the phonetic alphabet isn't the ideal form of recording certain languages such as Chine ...more
Jan 07, 2017 rated it liked it
A fun book with plenty of food for thought, but not intellectually honest enough for its format.

Reminded me a little of Julian Jaynes' Bicameral Mind book at first, when McLuhan was trying to make an argument about visual/aural cultures---not because of any similarity in the theories but because it was simultaneously unconvincing and fascinating. But as McLuhan went on, I grew bored of his sorting things into whatever category justified his previous argument, however little sense it made. Lots o
May 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, informative
I love how this book is divided into sections on the different effects the printing press had on society; that makes it far easier to find information for research. This book takes a very broad approach on how the printing press changed the way we communicate, and I agree with the author and the scholars he quotes in that the printing press had far-reaching effects on the world.
Moments of Kabir
Nov 08, 2008 marked it as to-read
This is not "my review" but it is related to what people can learn and get from the book....

The global village
In the early 1960s, McLuhan wrote that the visual, individualistic print culture would soon be brought to an end by what he called "electronic interdependence": when electronic media replace visual culture with aural/oral culture. In this new age, humankind will move from individualism and fragmentation to a collective identity, with a "tribal base." McLuhan's coinage for this new social
Carlos González
A work of insurmountable genius.
Adrian Găinaru
Jan 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Galaxia Gutenberg a lui Marshall McLuhan, un canadian umanist, filolog de formatie, care a studiat in profunzime comunicarea si rolul semnaticii si semiologiei in perspectiva rolului sau fundamental in relatiile comunicarii interpersonale este o lucrare revolutionara, un roman daca-l putem asimila acestui gen literar, in care autorul descrie anticipand mersul clar al lucrurilor ce v-a sa vina, cu o intelepciune si precizie formidabile. De pilda cheile aces
Kevin Kizer
Sep 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I've never been able to precisely describe what it is McLuhan did exactly because he was so singular. In this he's called the original media guru, and that's an understatement. He was able to have the foresight to see how different technologies would effect culture as a whole. Here is the guy who coined the phrase "global village" in the '60s in reference to what he thought the effect of electronic technology would have on the world. Here's the guy who predicted (again, in the '60s) that color T ...more
Jose Gaona
Apr 25, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: no-ficción
Marshall McLuhan nos presenta en este ensayo la importancia de la imprenta a la hora de determinar los procesos mentales, sociales y culturales del hombre moderno, cuya característica es la preponderancia de lo visual, en oposición a la tradición anterior, que se regía por el orden de lo audiotactil. Para sustentar sus tesis, Macluhan apela a diversas disciplinas como la antropología, la sociología, la filosofía, la literatura, las matemáticas y la historia y consigue erigir una cabaña conceptua ...more
Sep 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Totally brilliant. The idea that civilization has been made captive of the processes uncovered by printed phonetic language... mass standardization... is a tough one to grasp. That what we humans have taught one another to adhere to and appreciate is actually that which currently holds us back from evolving knocks me over with it's obviousness. It's too in-your-face simple to be true. But is a totally plausible diagnosis of causes of contemporary commoner alienation and elite tyranny.

His ideas
Sep 19, 2014 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
"Галактика Гутенберга" - легендарная работа канадского литературоведа, социолога и культуролога, знаменитого "пророка из Торонто", овеянного славой глашатая электронной эры, метафоры которого вошли в повседневный язык, став элементом классификации мира, - Г.М.Маклюэна. В ней он, прибегая к мозаичному, чресполосному подходу к современной цивилизации, утверждает, что решающим фактором процесса формирования конкретной социально-экономической системы, а, по сути дела, двигателем исторического прогре ...more
Hans-Peter Merz
Oct 18, 2011 marked it as abandoned
MML S. 141

"An age in rapid transition is one which exists on the frontier between two cultures and between conflicting technologies. Every moment of its consciousness is an act of translation of each of these cultures into the other."

Die Gutenbergdruckereien haben zweihundert Jahre lang kaum etwas anderes veroeffentlicht als die mittelalterlichen Handschriften. Originaere neue Literatur wurde erst ab dem 18. Jahrhundert geschaffen. Die Leserschaft vorher fragte nach den alten Texten in handliche
Jul 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
Yes, at first glance this book is an incoherent mess. The basic syntactical unit of the book is the two page micro essay and there are no clear chapter/subject divisions. McLuhan also introduces a number of idiosyncratic terms which he doesn't bother to define. But at around 100 pages things start to come together and McLuhan's commentary on the implications of movable type and the book as commodity(and the role of the written word in the articulation of nations, sophisticated economies, globali ...more
Theresa Macphail
Gutenberg - and this particular text - is probably most famous for his phrase: "The medium is the message." Although dated and a bit dry, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in the effects of technology (in this case the printing press) on society. Organized as a series of thought exercises, this book guides readers through the shifts in society brought on by the printed word. The takeaway for me was that text is itself a technology - and that the method of communication is indeed equ ...more
Oct 20, 2009 rated it liked it
Either completely brilliant or total hogwash, I'm not qualified to say. Sometimes McLuhan sounds like he's simply wandered off on some flight of fancy, and his tendency to being in Shakespeare, Milton, or Blake as proof of his assertions ("Here in King Lear you can see how Shakespeare was discussing the ways in which print liquifies our sense of geographical and personal boundaries!") is baffling at times. But for all the fluidity and scatteredness of his style, there's no doubting he's expressi ...more
Jul 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Very insightful look at how information technologies shape all other aspects of culture. I didn't follow everything in the book, but I did get a lot of ideas. I originally got interested in this book when the World Wide Web was beginning. Although McLuhan wrote in 1960, what he saw about the electronic age beginning with the telegraph, radio, film, and TV has continued and intensified with the Internet. This book helped me see a lot of my assumptions about the way the world is based on print cul ...more
Debbie Morrison
Apr 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I'm enjoying this book a great deal so far. A challenging read, but worth it. Written by a Canadian scholar and published by the University of Toronto Press.

Book Description: "Since its first appearance in 1962, the impact of The Gutenberg Galaxy has been felt around the world. It gave us the concept of the global village; that phrase has now been translated, along with the rest of the book, into twelve languages, from Japanese to Serbo-Croat. It helped establish Marshall McLuhan as the original
Alisa Cupcakeland
Review completo en:

Siendo sincera...pensé que iba a ser peor. La verdad es que no era tan críptico como esperaba y algunas ideas son interesantes. Sin embargo, me molestó muchísimo la arrogancia y pretensión de superioridad intelectual de este hombre. Te habla de conceptos de Aristoteles, Weber, entre otros sin mencionar que son los conceptos de esos autores, dificultando la lectura para quienes no están familiarizados con ellos.

No lo recomiendo, pero me
Czarny Pies
Oct 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Aux internautes philosophes
Recommended to Czarny by: Woody Allen
Shelves: philosophy
Dans la Galaxie de Gutenberg Marshall McLuhan presente sa grande these que ce n'est pas le contenu du message mais son medium (presse ecrite, television, radio, etc.) qui est le facteur determinant dans le resultat du message. Dans ce livre McLuhan essaie de demontrer que l'invention de la presse par Gutenberg a donne naissance au rationalisme, au dualisme, a la standardisation, et a l'uniformisation culturelle a l'echelle planetaire. La these presente dans ce livre resiste bien a toutes les att ...more
May 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
An astonishing book, a dry one, about the effects of the Gutenberg press, a device that shocked the church, brought about new religions, started wars and changed the human race. In different sections, the Greeks complain that more books will make readers lazy. Readers won't have to memorize a book because the presence of more books will make that unnecessary. In other sections, the author talks about the fact that Balinese plays, not books, teach the Balinese what is right and wrong.
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help for traslate, please! 1 10 Apr 18, 2012 04:18AM  
  • The Bias of Communication
  • Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word
  • Life on the Screen
  • Marshall McLuhan: You Know Nothing of My Work!
  • The Printing Press as an Agent of Change
  • The Technological Society
  • The Pentagon of Power (The Myth of the Machine, Vol 2)
  • The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age
  • Technics and Time, 1: The Fault of Epimetheus
  • Preface to Plato
  • Art and Fear (Continuum Impacts)
  • How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis
  • A Short History of the Printed Word
  • The Language of New Media
  • Di bene in peggio. Istruzioni per un successo catastrofico
  • Remediation: Understanding New Media
  • The Urban Revolution
  • Protocol: How Control Exists After Decentralization
Herbert Marshall McLuhan, CC, was a Canadian educator, philosopher, and scholar — a professor of English literature, a literary critic, and a communications theorist. McLuhan's work is viewed as one of the cornerstones of the study of media theory. McLuhan is known for coining the expressions "the medium is the message" and the "global village".

“A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and
“Schizophrenia may be a necessary consequence of literacy. [p. 32]” 15 likes
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