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Men’s Work

Adam Kuper: Lévi-Strauss

24 June 2004
Claude Lévi-StraussThe Formative Years 
by Christopher Johnson.
Cambridge, 208 pp., £40, February 2003, 0 521 01667 3
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... cafés, its members visiting each other in their cottages in the country or coming together at weekends in the houses of wealthy patrons. Artists, writers, philosophers and scientists shared a world. ClaudeLévi-Strauss was the son of an artist, and two of his uncles were painters who had their moments of fame. Trained as a philosopher, he made it his ambition to turn anthropology into a natural ...
20 April 1995
German Ideology: From France to Germany and Back 
by Louis Dumont.
Chicago, 259 pp., £25.95, March 1995, 0 226 16952 9
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... In part, this choice was dictated by political events. The Frankfurt sociology of Jürgen Habermas became prominent in the wake of the Wirtschaftswunder, while the structural anthropology of ClaudeLévi-Strauss spoke to French misgivings about the colonial experience. In both countries these disciplines became as much means of engaging in politics as sciences for studying it. The age of structuralisms is ...

Hang Santa

Wendy Doniger

16 December 1993
Unwrapping Christmas 
edited by Daniel Miller.
Oxford, 239 pp., £25, November 1993, 0 19 827903 5
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... The authors of this collection of essays are social anthropologists who follow the structuralist ClaudeLévi-Strauss, literally – an essay by him comes first, after Daniel Miller’s introduction – and, in varying degrees, intellectually. What they discover when they unwrap Christmas present – Christmas now ...

Naming of Dogs

Edmund Leach

20 March 1986
The View from Afar 
by Claude Lévi-Strauss, translated by Joachim Neugroschel and Phoebe Hoss.
Blackwell, 311 pp., £19.50, June 1985, 0 631 13966 4
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... In their French editions the titles and covers of Lévi-Strauss’s books are often designed to tease as well as to inform. They deserve attention. Tristes Tropiques is about tropes as well as tropics; Mythologiques is about odd kinds of logic as well as ...

Jottings, Scraps and Doodles

Adam Shatz: Lévi-Strauss

3 November 2011
Claude​ Levi-Strauss: The Poet in the Laboratory 
by Patrick Wilcken.
Bloomsbury, 375 pp., £30, November 2011, 978 0 7475 8362 2
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... Austere, prickly, solitary, ClaudeLévi-Strauss is the least fashionable, and most influential, of the postwar French theorists. Lévi-Straussians are a nearly extinct tribe in Anglo-American universities, far outnumbered by Foucauldians ...

Theories of Myth

Hugh Lloyd-Jones

19 March 1981
Structure and History in Greek Mythology and Ritual 
by Walter Burkert.
California, 226 pp., £9, April 1980, 0 520 03771 5
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Myth and Society in Ancient Greece 
by Jean-Pierre Vernant, translated by Janet Lloyd.
Harvester, 242 pp., £24, February 1980, 9780391009158
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... to whom they belong; Ernst Cassirer’s theory of myth as a symbolic form of expression suffers from the vagueness of its concept of a symbol. Far more in the public eye at present is the theory of ClaudeLévi-Strauss. Influenced by Durkheim and Mauss, and acting on the analogy of the structural linguistics initiated by de Saussure, he finds a second meaning which may be more significant than the ...


Maurice Bloch

5 May 1983
The Way of the Masks 
by Claude Lévi-Strauss, translated by Sylvia Modelski.
Cape, 249 pp., £15, February 1983, 0 224 02081 1
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... One of the most disconcerting aspects of introducing the work of Lévi-Strauss to students is that those who are just beginning an anthropology course often seem able to grasp quickly and easily the main points of his work, while those who have a good anthropological training ...

Northern Lights

Chauncey Loomis

2 June 1988
Living Arctic: Hunters of the Canadian North 
by Hugh Brody.
Faber, 254 pp., £4.95, November 1987, 0 571 15096 9
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... a reaction even if we had it. The word ‘savage’ alone would be beyond the pale, more embarrassing than any four-letter word. Under the severe tutelage of anthropologists and in the long shadow of ClaudeLévi-Strauss, we are losing our cultural arrogance – or, perhaps the same thing, our cultural innocence. A good thing, too: the main point of innocence is to lose it, and this particular innocence ...

Joseph Jobson

Patrick Wormald

18 April 1985
Saladin in his Time 
by P.H. Newby.
Faber, 210 pp., £10.95, November 1983, 0 571 13044 5
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Soldiers of the Faith: Crusaders and Moslems at War 
by Ronald Finucane.
Dent, 247 pp., £12.50, November 1983, 0 460 12040 9
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... ClaudeLévi-Strauss and others have been in the habit of describing the expansion of European civilisation as an unmitigated catastrophe for the rest of mankind. It is arguable that not the least of its casualties has ...

Djojo on the Corner

Benedict Anderson

24 August 1995
After the Fact: Two Countries, Four Decades, One Anthropologist 
by Clifford Geertz.
Harvard, 198 pp., £17.95, April 1995, 0 674 00871 5
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... Brown (1881), and Bronislaw Malinowski (1884), with Ruth Benedict (1887) at the tail end. The second generation were born in the decade 1901-11: Margaret Mead (1901), Edward Evans-Pritchard (1902), ClaudeLévi-Strauss (1908), Edmund Leach (1910), Louis Dumont and Max Gluckman (1911). They were formed in the age of Hitler and Stalin, and, in the cases of France and Britain, of impending imperial ...
31 October 1996
Adventures on the Freedom Road: The French Intellectuals in the 20th Century 
by Bernard-Henri Lévy, translated by Richard Veasey.
Harvill, 434 pp., £20, December 1995, 1 86046 035 6
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The Imaginary Jew 
by Alain Finkielkraut, translated by Kevin O’Neill and David Suchoff.
Nebraska, 230 pp., £23.95, August 1994, 0 8032 1987 3
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The Defeat of the Mind 
by Alain Finkielkraut, translated by Judith Friedlander.
Columbia, 165 pp., $15, May 1996, 0 231 08023 9
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... is largely a history of literature: the intellectuel is first and foremost a writer, whose status as an intellectual is defined in reference to literature. However, as Lévy’s interview here with Claude Simon makes clear, in French cultural life today these are no longer competing, but simply different worlds: ‘the demise of the prophets’ after the Sixties also marks the end of a privileged ...
5 June 1980
Structuralism and Since: From Lévi-Strauss​ to Derrida 
edited by John Sturrock.
Oxford, 190 pp., £5.50, January 1980, 0 19 215839 2
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... literally. It traces, technically and without concession to idle curiosity, the course of ‘structuralism’ in its modern phase – from the moment when it achieved new importance in the work of Lévi-Strauss in the early Sixties, through its development and extensions in the work of Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, Jacques Lacan and Jacques Derrida, to its present position, which is known either as ...

Don’t do it!

Wendy Doniger: Dick Francis

15 October 1998
Field of 13 
by Dick Francis.
Joseph, 273 pp., £16.99, September 1998, 0 7181 4351 5
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... a long career as a champion National Hunt jockey, he published his first novel, Dead Cert, we have celebrated the new Francis novel. A Francis novel is a story composed of recycled fragments, what ClaudeLévi-Strauss called mythemes (we call them clichés when they occur in bad films and novels), which the author constantly shuffles and reassembles through a process of bricolage. Francis novels are ...
18 December 1986
Between the Woods and the Water 
by Patrick Leigh Fermor et al.
Murray, 248 pp., £13.95, October 1986, 0 7195 4264 2
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by Jonathan Raban.
Collins, 301 pp., £10.95, September 1986, 0 00 272119 8
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The Grand Tour 
by Hunter Davies.
Hamish Hamilton, 224 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 241 11907 3
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... place and report the experience in one of the styles patented by Graham Greene, Paul Theroux, Bruce Chatwin and Robert Byron. The scholarly version of these explorations is called anthropology, as in ClaudeLévi-Strauss, Clifford Geertz, Margaret Mead, and many American scholars in receipt of sabbatical leave and Guggenheim fellowships. If you have a sufficiently resourceful mind, and a persuasive ...

Marseille, 1940-43

Neal Ascherson

18 July 2013
... Serge, Walter Benjamin, Franz Werfel and his wife Alma Mahler, Lion Feuchtwanger, Konrad Heiden (Hitler’s first truthful biographer), Marc Chagall, Jacques Lipchitz, Moïse Kisling, the young ClaudeLévi-Strauss … A band of surrealists led by Max Ernst (Tristan Tzara, Wifredo Lam, André Breton among them) hid in the spooky Villa Air-Bel in the city’s outskirts. Marseille was in the non ...

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