The Gutenberg Galaxy


The Gutenberg Galaxy:
The Making of Typographic Man

by Marshall McLuhan (1962)

From Shakespeare’s Lear to Joyce’s Finnegans, Marshall McLuhan shows how the printing press moved Western man from the hot, hyperesthetic world of the ear to the cool, neutral world of the eye–knowledge that is prerequisite to understanding media. In doing so, McLuhan finds a ray of hope for solving the dilemma of the individual living in an age of mass-culture in technologies of the later 20th Century, as seen through the ears of James Joyce:

Our liberation from the dilemma may, as Joyce felt, come from the new electric technology, with its profound organic character. For the electric puts the mythic or collective dimension of human experience fully into the conscious wake-a-day world. Such is the meaning of the title of Finnegans Wake. While the old Finn cycles had been tribally entranced in the collective night of the unconscious, the new Finn cycle of totally interdependent man must be lived in the daylight of consciousness. (269)

In the end, McLuhan finds that “the twentieth century has worked to free itself from the conditions of passivity, which is to say, from the Gutenberg heritage itself” (278). But just how it did that would require another book. 294 pages.


  • Prologue
  • The Gutenberg Galaxy
  • The Galaxy Reconfigured
  • Bibliographic Index
  • Index of Chapter Glosses

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