The Revolt of the Masses
New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1932. First American edition, review copy; 1932 book review article from “The Modern Quarterly” enclosed. Octavo. Original cloth with dust jacket (not price-clipped). Rare dust jacket in fair condition, internally and externally mended with tape, chipping (including one-inch chip to bottom spine), with splitting to spine and some staining. Publication date (“Aug 18 1932 / Publication Date”) stamped to upper front cover. Very good in a fair and worn (though scarce) original dust jacket from an advance review copy. Item #54
A review copy of José Ortega y Gasset’s (1883–1955) seminal analysis of the masses and the influence of “mass man” on modern society. Ortega was born in Madrid and was early influenced by his family’s liberal leanings. His father was director of El Imparcial, an ideologically liberal newspaper owned by his mother, Dolores Gasset, which was one of the first newspapers in Spain to be published by a company rather than a political party. After earning his doctorate in philosophy in Madrid, he continued his education in Germany from 1905 to 1907. Upon returning to Spain in 1908, Ortega was appointed professor of Psychology, Logic, and Ethics at the Escuela Superior del Magisterio de Madrid, and in 1917 he became a contributor to the Spanish newspaper El Sol. It was in the pages of El Sol that Ortega would publish a series of articles on the emerging consequences of mass culture in 1929. He then published these articles in book form in 1930 (Le Rebelión de las Masas) in Spain; The Revolt of the Masses was thereafter published in America two years later by W. W. Norton & Company. The initial American edition was authorized by Ortega, but the English translator of the work asked to remain anonymous. The Revolt of the Masses remains Ortega’s best-known work, and in it he defends meritocratic liberalism from attacks by contemporary Communists and populists, arguing that massification of society, and the “tyranny of the majority,” result in the collective mediocrity of the masses—a social levelling that endangers free thinking, individualism, and the minority. Ortega did not—as is commonly held—attack particular social classes in the book; rather, he focuses his critique on the self-satisfied specialist who would impose their limited views on all of society. In this respect, the “mass man” can be found throughout the various classes and professions—he is a psychological type more than a socio-economic phenomenon. Ortega’s thought, and The Revolt of the Masses in particular, proved highly influential in the twentieth century and remains a classic to this day, and was named by National Review as one of the 100 greatest non-fiction books of the twentieth century. This copy encloses an interesting review of the book by Robert Briffault in “The Modern Quarterly” with the following note typed upon the cut-out review: “This is a pernicious display of prejudice by a reviewer who was an addicted communist, who was also a man of considerable learning—alas!” An uncommon advance review copy of Ortega’s seminal work in the original dust jacket.