This article studies the concept of ‘aristocracy’ in The Revolt of the Masses by José Ortega y Gasset. While the notion of ‘aristocracy’ in this work is generally considered in a metaphorical sense, in opposition to the concept of ‘mass man’ or ‘average man’, the present article analyses the role of aristocracy in a referential sense, i.e. as referring to a privileged social class. It does so on two different levels. Firstly, an analysis of references to aristocracy elucidates the complex communicational strategy of the book, appealing to both Spanish and European readers. Secondly, it is argued references to the history of aristocracy as a social class point to the central, but ultimately eluded, question of the work: the reasons for the tragic disintegration of 19th century civilisation into its exact opposite.
"The final publication is available at link.springer.com”.