The Virtual Marshall McLuhan


Donald Theall explores and explains the significance of the emergence of McLuhan as an important figure in North America in the development of an understanding of culture, communication, and technology. He reveals important information about McLuhan and his relationships with his earliest collaborator and life-long friend, anthropologist Edmund Carpenter, as well as with Theall himself, McLuhan’s first doctoral student. McLuhan emerges as a complex human being, at once attractive, witty, egotistic, and exasperating. Theall examines McLuhan’s many roles - proponent of a poetic method; pop guru adopted by Tom Wolfe, Woody Allen and others; North American precursor of French theory (Baudrillard, Barthes, Derrida, Deleuze); artist; and shaman. Complex and intellectual, neither uncritical adulation nor demonization, The Virtual Marshall McLuhan does justice to a unique figure caught in a struggle between tradition and modernity, between faith and anarchy.


"Theall has done something no previous biographical study of McLuhan had adequately accomplished - he has provided us with an intimate and informed look at McLuhan's sources, especially those in literature. " Paul Heyer, School of Communication, Simon Fraser University "Theall breaks new ground and provides extensive, fresh material. He offers fascinating insights into McLuhan's overall project through his examination of such issues as his role as a poet manqué who made use of the 'essai concret,' his stance as a Mennippean satirist, his abiding interest in the gnostic and the occult, his use of the tetrad scheme throughout his writings, and his links to French structuralism and cyberculture theory. " William J. Buxton, co-editor of Harold Innis in the New Century: Reflections and Refractions