Critique of Everyday Life, Volume Iby Henri Lefebvre, John Moore (Translator)
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 appeared1962was 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.
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.
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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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