The Revolt of the Masses  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Revolt of the Masses is the English translation of José Ortega y Gasset's La rebelión de las masas. The original was first published as a book in 1930; the English translation, first published two years later, was authorized by the author. While the published version notes that the translator requested to remain anonymous, more recent editions also record that its US copyright was renewed in 1960 by a Teresa Carey, and the US Copyright Office's published list of US copyright renewals for January 1960 gives the translator as J. R. Carey.

A second translation was published in 1985 by the University of Notre Dame Press in association with W.W. Norton and Co. This translation was completed by Anthony Kerrigan (translator) and Kenneth Moore (editor). An introduction was written by novelist, Saul Bellow.

In this work, Ortega traces the genesis of the "mass-man" and analyzes his constitution en route to describing the rise to power and action of the masses in society. Ortega is throughout quite critical of both the masses and the mass-men of which they are made up, contrasting "noble life and common life" and excoriating the barbarism and primitivism he sees in the mass-man. He does not, however, refer to specific social classes, as has been so commonly misunderstood in the English-speaking world. Ortega states that the mass-man could be from any social background, but his specific target is the bourgeois educated man, the señorito satisfecho (satisfied young man or Mr. Satisfied), the specialist who believes he has it all and extends the command he has of his subject to others, contemptuous of his ignorance in all of them. His summary of what he attempted in the book exemplifies this quite well, while simultaneously providing the author's own views on his work: "In this essay an attempt has been made to sketch a certain type of European, mainly by analyzing his behaviour as regards the very civilization into which he was born". This had to be done because that individual "does not represent a new civilisation struggling with a previous one, but a mere negation ..."

Notable quotes

"As they say in the United States: “to be different is to be indecent.” The mass crushes beneath it everything that is different, everything that is excellent, individual, qualified and select. Anybody who is not like everybody, who does not think like everybody, runs the risk of being eliminated. And it is clear, of course, that this “everybody” is not “everybody.” “Everybody” was normally the complex unity of the mass and the divergent, specialised minorities. Nowadays, “everybody” is the mass alone. Here we have the formidable fact of our times, described without any concealment of the brutality of its features."

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Revolt of the Masses" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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