McLuhan, Marshall

The Medium is the Massage

  • First edition, first printing of this classic work by the original prophet of the information age.

    McLuhan was a Canadian professor and literary critic who became one of the 20th century’s most controversial media theorists. Expanding on his expertise in the history of early literature and printing, he argued that “the medium is the message” - that the physical form of a communication technology affects our reception of the messages it delivers. Thus, printed books, newspapers, radio, television, the telephone and, eventually, the internet, each affect individuals and society in different ways.

    While McLuhan was in some senses a technological determinist, believing that technology strongly disrupts and reshapes human culture, he tempered this with humanism, and advocated better research and education that would allow individuals to take control of how their lives were being influenced by the media. Today he is revered for his prescience regarding the digital revolution, and is seen as a pioneer of the philosophies of creative disruption and technological libertarianism that have so influenced the development of the modern internet and the world around it.

    The Medium is the Massage (“massage” was originally a typesetter’s error that McLuhan liked and kept as the title) was published in 1967 as an illustrated introduction to McLuhan’s philosophy for the general public. Though he had already published several books on his theories, including The Mechanical Bride and The Gutenberg Galaxy, they were somewhat academic, and it was the radical and electrifying Medium is the Massage that became a best-seller and cemented its author’s reputation as one of the great thinkers of the 20th century.

  • New York: Random House, 1967. Tall quarto. Original black and white cloth, titles to spine in black and white, black endpapers, top edge dyed black. With the dust jacket. Just a little minor toning along the edges of the boards. An excellent copy in the very good, price-clipped dust jacket that is a little scuffed and rubbed with a small spot of dampstain and some small chips, short closed tears, and creases, primarily on the lower panel.

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