An Essay on Liberation [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 23 (3):561-561 (1970)
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Where is the old Marcuse? Is he too tired to be explicit, to reason, to give a rationale for what he is contending? Why has he written this?--this which is just another protest lost in the shouting and the printing scattered all over stop signs, subway walls, placards, newspapers, magazines, and in books. Perhaps the importance of the book is its perseverance at a time when we are exhausted, worn out by protest's apparent sterility on the one hand and its kiss-of-death fashionability on the other. Many places in this book are obscure because they are poorly written and poorly edited. Marcuse walks the line between being original enough to be provocative and irresponsible enough to be dismissed. The book is a fascinating interplay between sense and nonsense, penetrating insight and polemical overstatement, between creative originality and banal sloganism, between brilliant interpretive social commentary and abject confusion. Marcuse does succeed in letting the reader know that there is something wrong with our society and that many of the values that we have taken for granted must be rethought, but this is not Marcuse at his best, and the net force of the book is to leave the reader bewildered with this, another indication that these are bewildering times.--S. O. H.



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