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About Eric Hoffer
Eric Hoffer Biography
Former migratory worker and longshoreman, Eric Hoffer burst on the scene in 1951 with his irreplaceable tome, The True Believer, and assured his place among the most important thinkers of the twentieth century. Nine books later, Hoffer remains a vital figure with his cogent insights to the nature of mass movements and the essence of humankind.
Of his early life, Hoffer has written: "I 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.
"When my father (a cabinetmaker) died, I realized that I would have to fend for myself. I knew several things: One, that I didn't want to work in a factory; two, that I couldn't stand being dependent on the good graces of a boss; three, that I was going to stay poor; four, that I had to get out of New York. Logic told me that California was the poor man's country."
Through ten years as a migratory worker and as a gold-miner around Nevada City, Hoffer labored hard but continued to read and write during the years of the Great Depression. The Okies and the Arkies were the "new pioneers," and Hoffer was one of them. He had library cards in a dozen towns along the railroad, and when he could afford it, he took a room near a library for concentrated thinking and writing.
In 1943, Hoffer chose the longshoreman's life and settled in California. Eventually, he worked three days each week and spent one day as "research professor" at the University of California in Berkeley. In 1964, he was the subject of twelve half-hour programs on national television. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1983.
"America meant freedom and what is freedom? To Hoffer it is the capacity to feel like oneself. He felt like Eric Hoffer; sometimes like Eric Hoffer, working man. It could be said, I believe, that he as the first important American writer, working class born, who remained working class-in his habits, associations, environment. I cannot think of another. Therefore, he was a national resource. The only one of its kind in the nation's possession." - Eric Sevareid, from his dedication speech to Eric Hoffer, San Francisco, CA, September 17, 1985
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Titles By Eric Hoffer
Dedicare la propria vita a una causa che si considera sacra, seguirla ciecamente, opprimere o convertire gli altri in suo nome, subordinare ogni idea e ogni affetto alla sua realizzazione, essere pronti a morire per essa. È questo, indipendentemente dalla dottrina o dall'ideologia che sceglie, il semplice credo del fanatico, protagonista di questo saggio e della nostra epoca. Eric Hoffer, nel "Vero credente" riflette sulle cause e sul funzionamento dei movimenti di massa, siano essi religiosi, apertamente politici o più genericamente d'opinione. Da questo approccio e dal nitore dell'argomentazione nasce l'attualità, si potrebbe dire l'urgenza, di questo libro, pubblicato nel 1951 e ora tradotto per la prima volta in Italia. Per Hoffer, pur distinti per contenuti e scopi, i movimenti condividono la medesima morfologia, sorgono nei periodi di crisi e disgregazione dell'ordine sociale, si basano sugli stessi agenti unificanti e, soprattutto, si nutrono dalla stessa radice, quella della frustrazione che nasce dall'insoddisfazione verso se stessi e le proprie risorse. Il frustrato accoglie allora l'invito verso una terra promessa, reale o ideale, e verso il miraggio di una vita diversa, nell'osservanza assoluta di una logica esterna che lo distolga dal proprio fallimento e dalla propria paura. L'intento è quello di rivolgersi al più ampio numero di lettori possibile, ed esso ben rappresenta sia la sua idea di lavoro culturale che la misura del valore di questo libro.