The Passionate State of Mind by Eric Hoffer
New York : Harper & Row, 1955. Hardcover. 151 pages ; 20 cm. $4.50 dust jacket. Pages are clean and unmarked. Binding is firm.
The Passionate State of Mind
BY ERIC HOFFER
Several years ago Eric Hofer gave a fresh and savage twist to the English language when he used the phrase "true believer" to describe the fanatic—the man who, despising himself, pledges blind allegiance to a cause which will provide him with a new identity and purpose in life. Readers are still discovering Mr. Hofer and his book with delight.
Now in The Passionate State of Mind, he gives us another brilliant, provocative dissection of modern man under stress of emotion. Here is a mirror held up in which everyone must see himself, as he wishes to be and as he is—a creature moved by love, hate, fear, forever torn as the constant and unavoidable traffic between good and evil goes on.
Eric Hofer is not comfortable reading. Rather, he is "a harsh and potent mental tonic," to quote one critic, because he strips each of us of our favorite disguises and conceits. What he offers in return is increased self-awareness, "without which"—as he explains—"there can be neither sensitivity, self-cultivation, intellectual integrity, nor a genuine feeling for one's fellow men." The extraordinary perception and insight, the "wry epigram and the icy aphorism," which made The True Believer so notable, are present also in The Passionate State of Mind. It is exciting reading fare for those who can bear the burden of self-knowledge.
THE AUTHOR: From 1943 and until his recent retirement Eric Hoffer was a San Francisco longshoreman. He now spends one day a week as research professor at the University of California at Berkeley. Before that he was a migratory field laborer and a gold miner in the country around Nevada City.
Of his early life he writes: e CI had no schooling. I was practically blind up to the age of fifteen. When my eyesight came back I was seized with an enormous hunger for the printed word. I read indiscriminately everything within reach—English and German."
He chose California as a place to live because he judged that there a man could be both poor and independent. For ten years he was one of the "new pioneers," who included the Okies and the Arkies. In that time he scribbled and read, devouring books at a dozen libraries on the road and checking what he found against his firsthand knowledge of men and mass movements. Four books have resulted: The Temper of Our Time, The Ordeal of Change, The Passionate State of Mind, and The True Believer.
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