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The Wretched of the Earth

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  17,243 ratings  ·  740 reviews
A distinguished psychiatrist from Martinique who took part in the Algerian Nationalist Movement, Frantz Fanon was one of the most important theorists of revolutionary struggle, colonialism, and racial difference in history. Fanon's masterwork is a classic alongside Edward Said's Orientalism or The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and it is now available in a new translation tha ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published 2005 by Grove Press (first published 1961)
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Nathan Modlin Sit in a calming environment free of any weapons that could be used against people around you whom you may start to perceive as colonists. Pour yourse…moreSit in a calming environment free of any weapons that could be used against people around you whom you may start to perceive as colonists. Pour yourself a cup of tea, and take deep breaths while mentally preparing for the sudden burning anger in your chest you will feel after developing a full comprehension of colonial life. Start with Concerning Violence and try to make it through a few pages before ripping out your hair at the injustice performed against the colonized. Continue this process over the course of a few days, perhaps taking breaks to walk in the park to burn off the energy you wish you could be using to fight French colonists during the late 1950s. Perhaps seek a professional counselor or a devoted friend who can help you continue live with the new knowledge of the exploitation and violence used against the peaceful, native people in Algeria.(less)
Kid Kongo Sure it is. It's a radical sociology and political theory classic.

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Jun 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: empire
This book is angry passionate, but written with great clarity and purpose. It is the classic critique of colonialism from the Marxist left with a powerful introduction by Sartre. It is written before Vietnam, before the changes in the sixties and by an eminent psychiatrist enmeshed in the struggle for freedom in Algeria. Fanon examines nationalism, imperialism and the colonial inheritance and manages to turn the traditional definition of the lumpenproletariat on its head.
There are significant pr
Fans of Conrad, Morrison, Friere. Lovers of Things Fall Apart, Les Misérables, The Hunger Games. Definers of postcolonialism, social justice, revolution. Members of the military, political parties, life itself.

Think on the lies you live by.

The parameters do not matter. Neither do your excuses. If you are for peace, you are for it completely, or you are not for it at all. If you condone violence in any amount, the memorial, the dramatizations, the history of your people, you condone it all. When
May 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: recs, 2020
Offers a forceful Marxist critique of colonialism, homing in on the brutality of the European and African bourgeoisie; the work's foundational, with so many of its ideas having long been absorbed into the mainstream, and it offers a useful framework for thinking about the first stages of decolonization, especially the failure of anticolonial nationalism.
My favorite part of this book was the chapter called "On Colonialism and Psychoanalysis" where Fanon talks about how psychology can be used to colonize and control people, and details how the French scientific community criminalized and pathologized Algerian people through psychology to further colonialism and racism. These concepts are central to radical disability activism and Disability Studies today, and Fanon originally published "Wretched of the Earth" in 1961.

I had a hard time with the c
Ahmad Sharabiani
Les Damnés de la terre = The Wretched of the Earth, Frantz Fanon
The Wretched of the Earth (French: Les Damnés de la Terre) is a 1961 book by Frantz Fanon, in which the author provides a psychiatric and psychologic analysis of the dehumanizing effects of colonization upon the individual and the nation, and discusses the broader social, cultural, and political implications inherent to establishing a social movement for the decolonization of a person and of a people.
تاریخ نخستین خوانش: یازدهم ماه
Nov 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: the violent
Shelves: africa, 2017
Deep in the bowels of libraries, past the celebrity memoirs and adventure stories, tattered in the stacks, there are dark things: books that are actively, overtly dangerous. Here's one now.

Frantz Fanon's 1961 classic The Wretched of the Earth is about violence; it champions violence. It's a manual on how to be violent. Fanon is a genius, so it's seductive. It's like The Prince for African revolutionaries: concerned not with your bourgeois "morals" but with results. Here, let's summarize it with
Mar 17, 2007 rated it really liked it
Today Sartre would be sent to Guatanamo for the introduction that he wrote for this book.
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My only recommendation (re: this edition at least)--don't read the foreword or preface until AFTER reading the text.

Both seem designed to obscure & show off to other academics, as opposed to inform, unlike Fanon's writing itself.

This book is a very calm, determined & clarifying analysis and that I will chew on for a long long time.

It's not as dated as it "should" be so it's as relevant as ever.
K.D. Absolutely
Nov 03, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books - History Category
Shelves: 501, history
Prior to reading this book, I had absolutely no idea about the French rule in Algeria. Both countries are too far from the Philippines for me to be concerned about. Because it is the reason why Mr. Fanon wrote this book (published in 1961), I had to Google that part of Algerian history in the middle of my reading. I learned that French colonization of Algeria took almost a hundred years (1830 to the 1900's) and it was one of the most bloodiest colonization in the history of the world. The height ...more
Feb 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A psychological exploration of the oppressed and the oppressor. Analyzing the evolution of the native, he provides extraordinary insights into revolutionary change. Fanon was no champion of violence, he simply embraced the truth and portrayed the reality of a situation and the unfolding dialectic. He accurately describes the pitfalls of a postcolonial state, where the national bourgeoisie would turn into a profiteering caste, too glad to accept the dividends the formal colonial state hands out t ...more
Inderjit Sanghera
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
At first glance, the ideas which populate 'The Wretched of the Earth' don't feel particularly original. However it is only when the reader pauses and realises that this work was published in 1961, when countries were still in the midst of escaping from the yoke of colonialism, whose membrane had left a deep imprint on the psyche of its people, downtrodden by the drudgery of decades,  and in some cases of centuries of systematic dehumanisation, that the nascent nationalism which was burgeoning in ...more
Sara Salem
Apr 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Fanon's work has been ground-breaking in so many ways.
Zachary F.
"The collective struggle presupposes a collective responsibility. . . Yes, everyone must be involved in the struggle for the sake of the common salvation. There are no clean hands, no innocent bystanders. We are all in the process of dirtying our hands in the quagmire of our soil and the terrifying void of our minds. Any bystander is a coward or a traitor."

There are some books that are so influential and so firmly lodged in the collective conscience that no one actually reads them anymore, a
Apr 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me some while to get through 'The Wretched of the Earth', as it is a painful book to read and a period of history that I know far too little about. Fanon systematically dissects the phenomenon of colonialism, with a focus on Algeria and its attempts to break free from French rule. He explains how the native population is dehumanised by their occupiers, enslaved, exploited, killed, raped, and their land treated as a resource to be expropriated. He demonstrates the pernicious pseudo-scient ...more
Aug 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: translated
Paul's review reflects my own response, generally. I wrote many notes, but they are not interpretive. The first two sections felt like a thoroughly explained handbook for decolonisation, including the tactics a colonial administration will take to prevent it, and the many ways it can all go horribly wrong. The part on culture I was able to engage with a bit more critically. In the section on 'psychological disorders' the accounts of PTSD symptoms and professional torturers turning into compulsiv ...more
Jul 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Turns out my reading comprehension has vastly improved since I was a freshman in college. Who'd have thought! A few main takeaways:
‣Revolutionary violence means not a return to the precolonial "Dark Ages" but a reclamation of the humanity that has been stripped away.
‣In newly independent nations the bourgeoisie may simply take over the role of the oppressor and mimic the control and authority of the colonizers. Poorly-developed nationalism with no emphasis on the essential role of the masses is
Exemplary leftist work.

Some say the most complete synthesizer of political and psychological struggle.

The question is: was Sartre right that his book was an advocacy of violence? Or was Bhabha right that that is too limited a take. Undoubtedly they are both right.

The colonized are a in a position of being violated and liberating themselves (through violence) in such an extreme context is cathartic, but not without its negative effects (the part about the devastating psychological effects on peo
Rei Avocado
if you dont read this book youre a fucking idiot. im serious.

i think the ONLY thing fanon was even slightly wrong about was pan africanism and the relationship black americans (in north and south america--forgive me, im brazilian after all) have with racism. i think he dismisses the level of violence they (we? if i may include mixed race black people here) in the americas have and continue to endure since the time this book was written.

that being said, this is a masterpiece. fanon knew he was dy
Aug 06, 2008 rated it it was ok
Like Fanon's previous (and, from my perspective, better) work Black Skin, White Masks, as a middle class caucasian male (MC^2, if you will) it's difficult to offer a critique to The Wretched of the Earth that feels either relevant or responsible. After all, in Fanon's terms, I am (at least through complacency) part of the problem that this work tries to solve: writing this review is a bit like a 1950's Republican critiquing The Feminine Mystique. (Is there really anything to learn here, apart fr ...more
Frantz Fanon was considered a radical thinker in his time. But nowadays, who honestly defends colonization? Maybe a few old right wing French and Brits muttering through their mustaches in smoke-filled bars in Aix-en-Provence and Sheffield, but the rest of us have come to realize the truth of the matter. In "Black Skin, White Masks," Fanon performed a subtle psychological analysis of the colonial situation, but in "The Wretched of the Earth," he takes his fight to the streets. And he has plenty ...more
May 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: revolutionaries and those who are puzzled by them
Must-read for those interested in the effects of colonialism & skeptical about the inevitability of violent rebellion. May not convince you of the necessity of violence, but will explain a few things about the psychology of colonialist occupation. it's not a perfect book - it's full of bitterness and vitriol, but some of its insights are astounding. ...more
May 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is the book to read to understand the exploitative relationship between the colonizers and the colonized and is a damning critique on the history of colonialism as an institution(particularly in the French-Algerian context). It is a blend of anthropology, sociology, philosophy and psychology (Fanon's roots were in medicine, and particularly psychiatry, after all, and we can sense an indebtedness here to the writings of Freud, whom Fanon cites in the text). Parts of it seemed also to draw on ...more
Dr. Franz Fanon wrote The Wretched of the Earth in 1961; it was the same year that he died, it was the same year that I was born. And while there is nothing significant in the last fact to anyone beyond myself, I find myself chagrined to note that I've been on this earth 55 years without previously encountering Fanon's work.

The Wretched of the Earth is an important book. It was in 1961 and I believe it remains so in 2016. Fanon's analysis of the necessity for violence as the primary means to tr
Jun 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poc-authored
A masterpiece in its imagination, scholarship, and theory, Frantz Fanon's "The Wretched of the Earth" lays the groundwork for much of racial theory that would follow.

In succinct yet thorough chapters Fanon lays out the ways in which a colonized people can gain its independence from Europe and embark on a journey to independence, avoiding landmines on the way. And in each step, Fanon's radical method is simple: understand that the masses hold the keys to the kingdom, pre-colonial history should b
Jul 10, 2011 added it
Shelves: adult, africa
Not rating this one, because it would be impossible. I read this as a recommendation to learn more about the French-Algeria conflict. It was more philosophical than factual, which is what I needed (but I've found another one for that.) but the philosophy was though provoking. Especially as I look at his theory of colonization and decolonization based on experiences of my own lifetime (the Balkans, Rwanda)

Recently, I was watching an episode of the super annoying Treme, and the scene was the New
Jul 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
I recommend Colin's review, especially on Fanon's masculinist approach - go read that.

Other things to say - I think "On Violence" is the best essay in the book, and put in front for a reason. It's brilliantly written, an unforgettable indictment of the utter, unforgivable evil of colonialism. I won't forget Fanon's characterization of Nazi Germany's empire as colonialism within Europe, which I think is incredibly illuminating.

That said, I hate the way discussions of "On Violence" seem to go. Pe
Mar 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those books that I am embarrassed to lend out to other people because I have underlined in it EVERYWHERE.

The first 60 or so pages were very slow for me, but then Fanon really hit gold. As Sartre pointed out in his introduction, I was not the audience for this book. It was written for his revolutionary compatriots in the 3rd World. And it was stirring.

This rating would be 4.5 stars if available. The subject matter was incredibly important. You could tell it occurred to him at cer
Kaelan Ratcliffe▪Κάϊλαν Ράτκλιφ▪كايِلان راتكِليف
Concerning Violence

There's a fascinating blurb on the back of my copy of this book. It reads:

Many of the great calls to arms from the era of decolonization are now purely of historical interest, yet this passionate analysis of the relations between the great powers and the Third World is just as illuminating about the world we live in today.

This reminded me of something Noam Chomsky mentions about how free societies may allow dissident voices to exist, but will do anything to sideline o
Vince Will Iam
My second book by Fanon. I was pleased to rediscover his powerful voice, one that stands out for its clarity and wisdom to defend the oppressed people. This book was written against the background of the decolonization of Africa when burgeoning African nations had to find the right path to dignity and prosperity.

It's worth noticing the incredible preface by Jean-Paul Sartre which really sets the tone. Fanon dissects the mechanisms of oppression and the political games which have kept young Afri
This is an important continuation of his earlier work and I am still digesting it. I have been meaning to read this book ever since Said discussed Fanon's theory at length in Culture and Imperialism. More than anything, Fanon's book shows that the process of decolonization structurally and psychologically is far from over. I was chilled by the similarity between the way French psychologists spoke of Algerians and the way Arabs and Muslims were discussed in public American discourse post Septembe ...more
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Frantz Fanon was a psychiatrist, philosopher, revolutionary, and author from Martinique. He was influential in the field of post-colonial studies and was perhaps the pre-eminent thinker of the 20th century on the issue of decolonization and the psychopathology of colonization. His works have inspired anti-colonial liberation movements for more than four decades.

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