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Crowds and Power

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4.14  ·  Rating details ·  1,193 ratings  ·  80 reviews
Crowds and Power is a revolutionary work in which Elias Canetti finds a new way of looking at human history and psychology. Breathtaking in its range and erudition, it explores Shiite festivals and the English Civil war, the finger exercises of monkeys and the effects of inflation in Weimar Germany. In this study of the interplay of crowds, Canetti offers one of the most p ...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published April 1st 1984 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Macmillan) (first published 1960)
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4.14  · 
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 ·  1,193 ratings  ·  80 reviews


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BlackOxford
Mar 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Future Belongs to Crowds

An astounding book. It reads like a series of essays by Montaigne but all directed toward the phenomenon of human organisation. Each essay, which might include references as diverse as the anthropology of South American tribes to the history of European warfare, contains some comment which is not only arresting but revelatory of profound insight. Who knew that an apparently sociological treatise could be so creative, so enthralling, so literate? Crowds and Power is al
...more
Manny
Elias Canetti, the Nobel Prize-winning author of this book, would be unhappy to learn that he's now best known as Iris Murdoch's one-time lover. I had heard that he was the prototype of the diabolical Julius King in A Fairly Honourable Defeat, and I'd also read various lurid accounts of their affair. Among other things, Canetti's wife used to greet Murdoch with a smile when she turned up for their trysts and then make lunch for all of them afterwards; as you can see, a cult leader kind of person ...more
Mayim de Vries
Jul 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Canetti is a genius. The chapter on power and violence should be a must read for every aspiring politician (not to mention the ones already in office).
Mariafrancesca di natura viperesca sta con  Orlando

Scrissi di là il 21/08/15 ma continuo a rileggerlo

Se vi aspettate una fenomenologia della massa o le implicazioni sociologico-filosofiche del potere o gli arrovellamenti morali e/o etici sulla persistenza del male nell’uomo (tutta roba che si distingue per il mantra di nozioni di cui si è persa la fonte e che traggono la loro autorevolezza appunto dalla ripetitività), Canetti non è il vostro autore.
E se c’è un testo che sbeffeggi, riduca in poltiglia e getti ai porci le finte perle freudiane del
...more
Szplug
May 26, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a truly fascinating and perspective-altering examination of the phenomenon of crowds, and the power formations out of which various crowd configurations evolved, developed from a literary-mythological-psychological perspective. One of Canetti's principal explicatory methods is to describe custom and ritual amongst the modern remnant of hunting-gathering mankind - Australian aborigines and certain tribes of Southern Africa, for example - as well as using mystic religious ceremonial for il ...more
Chris
Jan 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
More literary than scientific, Canetti's anthropological investigation of crowd behavior will leave you looking both at human behavior and the natural world in new ways. Overstatements, stereotypes, all-too-tidy categories, and strained associations abound, yet the more one approaches the book as literature and less as a scientific treatise the more one can appreciate the insights throughout. An important book for better understanding oneself, religion, politics, sports fans, high school, and ju ...more
Sini
May 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Van Elias Canetti (Nobelprijs 1981) heb ik het nodige gelezen, en vooral "Het Martyrium" vond ik echt geweldig. Maar zijn essayistische hoofdwerk "Massa en Macht" las ik nu pas. Dat had eerder gemogen, want dit was echt een meesterwerk in de buitencategorie. Ik ben volkomen flabbergasted, euforisch en overdonderd. Ja, ik hou van lezen en bejubel veel boeken, maar dit boek is van zo'n zeldzame klasse dat ik mij eigenlijk totaal onmachtig voel om er ook maar iets over te zeggen.

Het is een geniaal
...more
Brett Green
Jun 29, 2014 rated it liked it
probably too rooted in a post wwII world view to have more theoretical staying power than something less contemporaneously minded, Canetti's ultimate point - all of his wonderful cited primary source digressions aside (the real highlights of the book, imo) - is that we all need to learn how to think and act for ourselves. crowd behavior as rooted in ressentiment, political power as rooted in paranoia. misanthropic and entertaining. too anecdotal to be non-fiction. too documented to be fiction. n ...more
Dan
Feb 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Literature, poetry, English, and Behavioral Science students,
Recommended to Dan by: Saw it on a library shelf
I read and re-read this book from front to back numerous times. The second half of this book is powerfully insightful. If one approaches this work from the perspective of deeply involved humanness, as literature, rather than austere science with cut and dried methodology, one may come away with a deeper, more comprehensive, and much more circumspect feeling and understanding for the human animal. The insights in this book are raw, to the point, and so far, are the most accurate and imaginative d ...more
Ryan Louis
Sep 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
The best insights can sometimes come from meandering pathways. Elias Canetti (a Nobelate in 1981) seems to embody an interdisciplinary fervor in order to uncover patterns related to power and corruption. Armed with a lifetime of reading in anthropology, psychology, political science and rhetoric--and equipped with a life traversing totalitarian governments, two world wars and knowledge of numerous languages--he weaves together stories of ancient and all-but forgotten cultures (to me, at least) i ...more
Sunny
Apr 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I thought this was amazing. Crazy crazy book that covers such an amazing range of the topics. All are essentially based about d the tic of crowds of humans mainly and the power associated with them. Highly recommended. Elias brings in a whole range of topics such as panic, rhythm, crowds of people and their types, the dead, hunting packs, native Indians, religious wars, Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Muharram, European nationalities, the destruction of the Xhosas, monkeys, epidemics, questions, c ...more
Hadrian
Interesting view of the behavior of crowds and leaders and how they interact and grow. Uses many anthropoligical examples, although some links are more tenuous than others. Extremely interesting.
ΑνναΦ
Sono troppo sopraffata per esprimere un giudizio articolato, nel caso poteri fare una classificazione aka lista da far invidia a Perec del perché questo testo è un'accozzaglia, pardon, un lungo susseguirsi senza filo, di brandelli di pensieri senza capo né coda su cosa sia la massa. Illustrati con ampi (ampissim) stralci di etologia – forse con sfumature enologiche - e antropologia, ma, francamente, a patto di non esser interessati alla vita particolareggiatamente descritta nei suoi momenti topi ...more
Ana
May 23, 2013 rated it did not like it
This is utter bullsht, or rather I should say I wholeheartedly believe it to be so. Because this is what annoys me to no end about books and people in general, when they present their obviously biased and very subjective opinions as the absolute truth emitted by the other worldy authority that they believe they are. To me, this is mister Canetti presenting his elaborate, pretentious, shallow, completely unsupported by research theories about crowds in the most patronizing and infurating way I've ...more
Abner Rosenweig
May 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
All I hear is praise for this book. It's good but I feel not as good as it should have been. Its rambling, discursive style is somewhat disorienting. There is no introduction and the structure of the book is very loosely held together. There is no logical progression, just a meandering through ideas loosely related to the themes of crowds and power. The book is admirable for its erudition and scope, ranging through history, anthropology, mythology, psychology, politics, biology, and more to give ...more
Andrew
I'll start by saying that I liked reading Crowds and Power, was deeply impressed by the concepts that Canetti develops and invokes, and entertained by the stories and myths he uses to buttress those concepts.

But this isn't scientific analysis at all-- it's literature above all else, and should be read in that light. Keep in mind that Canetti was writing in the structuralist heyday of the late '50s and early '60s-- this was a time when Marshall McLuhan was doing his thing with media, and when the
...more
Simon Lavoie
Masse et puissance m'est d'abord apparue comme une oeuvre d'imagination généreuse mais sans plan, lancée voire gaspillée en généralisations outrancières, en analogies douteuses et superficielles, en classifications inutiles, en tautologies, et en objectifs nobles - mais abandonnés aussitôt que déclarés. Ces impressions demeurent un temps puis disparaissent, presque entièrement. Le propos de Canetti s'échafaude sur des classifications et des métaphores, et sur de nombreuses incursions dans les ...more
Yupa
Jul 07, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Seicento inutili pagine...

Per le sezioni sulla psicologia, Canetti si rifà a Emil Kraepelin, attivo nel XIX secolo. Anche le ampie citazioni di antropologi, per altro spesso assai interessanti, non sembrano delle più recenti.
Pubblicato nel 1960, Massa e potere sembra fermo a un secolo prima, se non di più. Non solo per i riferimenti, ma per tutta l'impostazione.
Il suo approccio al sapere è libresco, antiquario, letterario e poco propenso al confronto con l'empiria, con l'accidentata particolarit
...more
Ryan
Jul 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I read about 1/3 of this during college days, oh so long ago, but in a very scattered manner, jumping from segment to segment. It had a large impact and I've been thinking about it quite a bit lately ... so it's time to go back and give it a more frontal assault.

Finally through this intellectual thicket ... though I cannot claim to have digested it. This is a dense, magisterial work ... vast erudition is on display, yet somehow worn lightly. His concerns are so human that the abstractions take r
...more
Mark Johnson
Mar 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those philosophical works in which the author reimagines the world through one of the lenses of a compound eye. Here, Canetti considers the human tendency to gather into groups, packs, herds and large crowds. Having analyzed the different types of crowds, their functions in society, and their typical behaviors, Canetti considers a great many case examples, ranging widely through time, space, and cultures, in which the notion of 'the crowd' provides fresh insights. I found dazzling ...more
Marina (Sonnenbarke)
[...]
In libreria trovate questo saggio spesso e volentieri negli scaffali di filosofia. Definizione un po' riduttiva, perché Massa e potere racchiude in sé i più svariati campi del sapere: filosofia sì, ma anche antropologia (molto), sociologia (e in verità io la direi più opera sociologica che filosofica), storia, psicanalisi.
Ecco, psicanalisi. Strenuo oppositore di Freud e della teoria psicanalitica tutta, Canetti si rivela uno dei più fini psicologi nei quali sia dato imbattersi.
È un saggio p
...more
Brad
Apr 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorite books of all time -- perhaps even more so in recent years, with the West finally learning how to become a crowd once again. Canetti's is not a totally straight-forward scholarly account of the psychology of crowd behavior, if that's what you're looking for; but more of a mythological anthropology of its undercurrents and symbols. My favorite being that concerning fire. If you find the book, flip to the section called "Panic," and you will be treated to a history of the ...more
Rich
Feb 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
One of the seminal books of the 20th century -- a synthesis of anthropology, sociology, deep psychology, political science, and folklore as channeled by a brilliant Romanian Jew who witnessed the rise and fall of Hitler and Stalin. So much that seems inexplicable about human behavior makes sense after reading this book.
Noah
Aug 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: austria-and-k-k
Quite intriguing to bizare... Canetti's views on power and crods are convincing and his examples taken mostly from Australian and African anthropology are most insightful. When he becomes too esoterical and to vague, especially in the last third when taking about mutation etc., it becomes hard to follow. None the less, quite an inspiration.
Cynthia
Mar 13, 2008 marked it as to-read
A long-term dipping-into book. Recommended on a blog by Charles Lemos, at [now defunct] bythefault.com. Goes deeper and wider than Hoffer's "True Believer."

Trivia: Canetti is thought to have been Iris Murdoch's model for The Black Prince.
María Sánchez
Sep 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
¿sabéis lo que es leer un libro y que se repitan pasajes y situaciones en el sueño?
pues eso. Gigante Canetti.
nedim
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-east
sürü ve güdücüler hakkında kitap

Paranoid yapıdaki bir insan asla affetmeyen ya da ancak büyük zorluklarla affeden, bunu düşünerek uzun zaman geçiren, affedilecek bir şeyi asla unutmayan ve affetmemek için kendisine karşı yapılmış düşmanca edimler icat eden bir insan olarak tanımlanabilir. Bu gibi insanların duyumsadığı çok kuvvetli iç direnç, her türden affetmeye karşı durur. Eğer iktidar elde ederler ve zaman zaman bu iktidarı korumak için affetmek zorunda kalırlarsa, bu yalnızca gösteri olar
...more
Joseph Stieb
Apr 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology
Read this because of my growing interest in totalitarianism, and I had heard Canetti's name thrown around in a bunch of lectures. I was mildly disappointed in the result, given the size of the book. It wasn't so much that I thought he didn't have anything interesting to say about crowd dynamics and psychology. The first 100 pages or so are very interesting in this respect as he explores multiple types of crowds.

However, what really turned me off for much of the book was the method. Much of Cane
...more
Elgun Hasanov
Even though I did not understand this book entirely, it made a considerable change in my way of thinking and looking at matters concerning not only crowds and power, but also other human activities and behaviors. I hope I will reread this book after a few years with a more improved and developed mind, and will be able to grasp better the concepts explained by this Nobel winning author.
Shane
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-non-fiction
A book written with an individual, literary sense of research (power) backed up by a litany of references from ancient times to the 1950s (crowd), this book is a paradox of prophesy and outdatedness that strikes a chord due to Canetti's excellent writing. Some of the borrowed descriptions of rituals and events in different cultures are fascinating, while Canetti's writing is strongest when it is metaphorical and descriptive. On rare occasions in this monumental book the writing gets slow or old- ...more
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Awarded the 1981 Nobel Prize in Literature "for writings marked by a broad outlook, a wealth of ideas and artistic power."

He studied in Vienna. Before World War II he moved with his wife Veza to England and stayed there for long time. Since late 1960s he lived in London and Zurich. In late 1980s he started to live in Zurich permanently. He died in 1994 in Zurich.

Author of Auto-da-Fé, Party in the
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“It is always the enemy who started it, even if he was not the first to speak out, he was certainly planning it; and if he was not actually planning it, he was thinking of it; and, if he was not thinking of it, he would have thought of it.” 22 likes
“The hand which scoops up the water is the first vessel. The fingers of both hands intertwined are the first basket. [p. 217]” 7 likes
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