Critique of Everyday Life

Overview

Henri Lefebvre's three-volume Critique of Everyday Life is perhaps the richest, most prescient work by one of the twentieth century's greatest philosophers. The first volume presented an introduction to the concept of everyday life. Written twenty years later, this second volume attempts to establish the necessary formal instruments for analysis, and outlines a series of theoretical categories within everyday life such as the theory of the semantic field and the theory of moments. The moment at which the book ...
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Critique of Everyday Life

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Overview

Henri Lefebvre's three-volume Critique of Everyday Life is perhaps the richest, most prescient work by one of the twentieth century's greatest philosophers. The first volume presented an introduction to the concept of everyday life. Written twenty years later, this second volume attempts to establish the necessary formal instruments for analysis, and outlines a series of theoretical categories within everyday life such as the theory of the semantic field and the theory of moments. The moment at which the book appeared—1962—was significant both for France and for Lefebvre himself: he was just beginning his career as a lecturer in sociology at Strasbourg, and then at Nanterre, and many of the ideas which were influential in the events leading up to 1968 are to found in this critique. In its impetuous, often undisciplined prose, the reader may catch a glimpse of how charismatic a lecturer Lefebvre must have been.

Author Biography: An historian and a sociologist, Henri Lefebvre developed his ideas over seven decades through intellectual confrontation with figures as diverse as Bergson, Breton, Sartre, Debord and Althusser. He authored more than sixty books, from Le nationalisme contre les nations in 1937 to La rythmanalyse which was published posthumously in 1992.

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Editorial Reviews

David Harvey
“One of the great French intellectual activists of the twentieth century.”
Fredric Jameson
“The last great classical philosopher.”
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``The more needs a human being has, the more he exists,'' quips Lefebvre in a savage critique of consumerist society, first published in 1947. The French philosopher, historian and Marxist sociologist, who died this summer at age 90, meditates on the dehumanization and ugliness smuggled into daily life under cover of purity, utility, beauty. He deconstructs leisure as a form of social control, spanks surrealism for its turning away from reality, and attempts to get past the ``mystification'' inherent in bourgeois life by analyzing Chaplin's films, Brecht's epic theater, peasant festivals, daydreams, Rimbaud and the rhythms of work and relaxation. Rejecting the inauthentic, which he perceives in a church service or in rote work from which one is alienated, Lefebvre nevertheless seeks to unearth the human potential that may be inherent in such rituals. (Nov.)
Library Journal
This translation of the second edition 1958 of French sociologist and philosopher Lefebvre's Critique de la Vie Quotidienne will introduce the English reader to his examination of the forces and structures that govern various aspects of our daily lives and in particular the role played by alienation in its various manifestations. The text includes a lengthy analytical introduction by the author that did not appear in the first edition of 1947. Lefebvre's Marxist orientation and terminology often make for tough reading, and there is a tendency here to make claims that lack clear supporting evidence. Nevertheless, it is to be hoped that Volumes 2 and 3 will eventually be translated, thereby allowing a fuller study of Lefebvre's thought.-- Terry Skeats, Bishop's Univ. Lib., Lennoxville, Quebec
Library Journal

Lefebvre (1901-91) is credited with the ideology that provoked the 1968 student uprisings in Paris, which started with a strike at Nanterre and rocked much of Europe. These three volumes, each previously published under separate cover, contain his critique of everyday life. His analyses start from a Marxist base and emphasize the tendency of capitalist society to dehumanize people by turning them into insatiable consumers whose purpose is to fuel a continuously expanding economy. Though Lefebvre counted himself among the "possibilists"-those who believed solutions must exist to the problems such societies pose-he found it difficult to propose a workable social plan, and his influence eventually faded. Since his death, Alain Badiou (b. 1937), who has argued that a truly open society must be predicated on notions of the infinite, has taken on some of the role that was once Lefebvre's, and his Infinite Thought: Truth and the Return to Philosophy should be read along with Lefebvre's work. Some academic libraries will welcome these convenient and well-translated texts, but public libraries are unlikely to find that the whole set justifies the shelf space it requires.
—Leslie Armour

From the Publisher
“A savage critique of consumerist society.”—Publishers Weekly

“One of the great French intellectual activists of the twentieth century.”—David Harvey

“The last great classical philosopher.”—Fredric Jameson

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781844671946
  • Publisher: Verso Books
  • Publication date: 2/17/2008
  • Edition description: 3-volume Boxed Set
  • Pages: 972
  • Product dimensions: 6.09 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 2.55 (d)

Meet the Author

Henri Lefebvre (1901–1991), former resistance fighter and professor of sociology at Strasbourg and Nanterre, was a member of the French Communist Party from 1928 until his expulsion in 1957. He was the author of sixty books on philosophy, sociology, politics, architecture and urbanism.

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