By Patrick Wilcken
The definitive account of the existence, paintings, and legacy of Claude Lévi-Strauss, father of contemporary anthropology and one of many postwar era's such a lot influential thinkers.
whilst Claude Lévi-Strauss passed on to the great beyond final October at age a hundred, France celebrated the existence and contributions of not just a preeminent anthropologist, but additionally one of many defining intellectuals of the 20th century. simply as Freud had shaken up the antiquarian self-discipline of psychiatry, so had Lévi-Strauss revolutionized anthropology, reworking it from the colonial period research of "exotic" tribes to 1 fed on with primary questions on the character of humanity and civilization itself.
Remarkably, there hasn't ever been a biography in English of the enigmatic Claude Lévi-Strauss. Drawing on a welter of unique study and interviews with the anthropologist, Patrick Wilcken's Claude Lévi-Strauss fills this void. In wealthy element, Wilcken re-creates Lévi-Strauss's peripatetic existence: his groundbreaking fieldwork in many of the remotest reaches of the Amazon within the Nineteen Thirties; his years as a Jew in Nazi- occupied France and as an émigré in wartime manhattan; and his go back to Paris within the overdue Forties, the place he clashed with Jean-Paul Sartre and essentially encouraged fellow postwar thinkers from Jacques Lacan to Michel Foucault and Roland Barthes. It used to be in France that structuralism, the college of proposal he based, first took carry, developing waves some distance past the sector of anthropology. In his heyday, Lévi-Strauss used to be either a hero to modern intellectuals and a world celebrity.
In Claude Lévi-Strauss, Wilcken offers the reader a desirable highbrow travel of the anthropologist's landmark works: Tristes Tropiques, a literary meditation on his travels and fieldwork; The Savage Mind, which confirmed that "primitive" everyone is pushed through a similar highbrow curiosities as their Western opposite numbers; and at last his enormous four-volume Mythologiques, a examine of the common constructions of local mythology within the Americas. within the years that Lévi-Strauss released those pioneering works, Wilcken observes, tribal societies appeared to carry the solutions to the main profound questions on the human brain. Following the good anthropologist from São Paulo to the Brazilian inside, and from long island to Paris, Patrick Wilcken's Claude Lévi- Strauss is either an evocative trip and an highbrow biography of 1 of the twentieth-century's so much influential minds.
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Extra resources for Claude Lévi-Strauss: The Poet in the Laboratory
These olfactory poles among which stretches a complete diversity of yankee convenience, from autos to bathrooms, in terms of radio units, goodies and toothpaste. i attempted to wager what the women within the drug-stores with their lilac clothes and mahogany hair have been pondering, at the back of their mask-like makeup. 35 Lévi-Strauss’s reliable welcome, notwithstanding, was once adversarial. His immigration bureaucracy was once already outdated, and whereas he cabled manhattan for clean assurances, he was once put lower than a unfastened kind of residence arrest, observed by way of bored law enforcement officials anywhere he went. 3 weeks handed sooner than the americans may perhaps manage for an FBI specialist to examine his crate of fieldwork notes. The agent, even though hugely suspicious of a card-index connection with Karl von den Steinen’s vintage paintings on Mato Grosso, Unter den Naturvölkern Zentral-Brasiliens, ultimately handed the gathering. Months after being bundled at the refugee send in Marseille, Lévi-Strauss was once cleared to continue to big apple. As he launched into the final leg of his voyage, one other Jewish highbrow, Russian linguist Roman Jakobson, was once fleeing Europe via boat. After passing the wreckage of the lately sunk Bismarck, Jakobson’s liner plowed around the North Atlantic, certain for brand new York. the 2 men’s next assembly might mark the start of a brand new highbrow matrix; disciplines—anthropology and linguistics—would come jointly, because the examine of kinship and phonemics, of structures of sound and marriage, turned not likely bedfellows. on the finish OF could 1941, Lévi-Strauss disembarked in long island along with his crate of ethnographic fabrics, a couple of own results and a small quantity of foreign money. The lengthy trip into exile that had all started a yr prior to within the deceptively tranquil woods in the back of the Maginot Line was once eventually over. He checked in on the New institution for Social examine, which had by means of then followed the function of a welcoming heart, assisting disoriented exiles locate their ft. by the point Lévi-Strauss arrived, a few thirty thousand French women and men had fled to long island. a few have been émigrés de luxe—the wealthy heading off the inconvenience of war—others penniless artists or lecturers. French newspapers, journals and a small publication publishing have been taking root; there have been concert events, exhibitions and performs that includes French artists. In a reprise of might 1939, Lévi-Strauss stumbled on that he had a salaried summer time sooner than him prior to periods started within the autumn. via an unseasonably humid spring, he got down to discover the town. He strolled up and down the avenues, ducked into go streets, hopping from Chinatown to the Puerto Rican local round West Twenty-third highway; from Little Italy to the garment district off Union sq. and the rows of sweatshops, nonetheless “charged with the stale odours from relevant Europe. ” He visited the fading top West facet and its grand turn-of-the-century flats, now subdivided for poorer tenants, and walked via streets of East aspect mansions. “One replaced kingdom each few blocks,” Lévi-Strauss later wrote, marveling on the novelty of an city multiculturalism that ecu towns may in basic terms start to event at the postwar cave in of empire.