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Crowds and Power is a revolutionary work in which Elias Canetti finds a new way of looking at human history and psychology. Breathtaking in its range and erudition, it explores Shiite festivals and the English Civil war, the finger exercises of monkeys and the effects of inflation in Weimar Germany. In this study of the interplay of crowds, Canetti offers one of the most profound and startling portraits of the human condition.
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"Canetti dissolves politics into pathology, treating society as a mental activity--a barbaric one, of course--that must be decoded." --Susan SontagFrom the Publisher:
Simon Schama explains why this is one of his favourites...
Born in Bulgaria and died in Hampstead, his first language the Hebrew-medieval Spanish hybrid, Ladino, Canetti was one of the most eccentric and extraordinary writers of the last century. His great novel, Auto-da-Fe will give anyone with a passion for books serious and prolonged nightmares.
Crowds and Power puts its finger unerringly on one of the great motor forces of modern history: the capacity of crowds to behave as more than the sum of their parts; to take on the characteristics of a collective organism, with a capacity to digest, multiply and kill. Himself a survivor of horrors (Canetti left Germany in 1938), his exacting eye takes in the grim retrospect of Europe but puts it in the context of tribal rituals in Africa, Amazonia and Australia.
Like most of the really great works of history, Canetti’s work, part ethnography, part social psychology, defies neat classification. But its message, not always welcome is - this too is what it’s like to be part of the human pack.
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