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The [ ] walked down the street

Michael Silverstein: Saussure, 8 November 2012

Saussure 
by John Joseph.
Oxford, 780 pp., £30, March 2012, 978 0 19 969565 2
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... but now America’s ‘red states’ vote Republican while its ‘blue states’ vote Democrat. Claude Lévi-Strauss, Edmund Leach, Mary Douglas and Marshall Sahlins have pointed out that our normative ‘totemic’ systems of colour – urban gang colours, sports team colours, school colours, gender colours etc – are precisely analogous to those of ...

At the Helm of the World

Pankaj Mishra: Alexander Herzen, 1 June 2017

The Discovery of Chance: The Life and Thought of Alexander Herzen 
by Aileen Kelly.
Harvard, 582 pp., £31.95, May 2016, 978 0 674 73711 2
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... not just as an abstract value but as a prerequisite for intellectual and aesthetic originality. Claude Lévi-Strauss, who defended premodern societies against accusations of backwardness, would have endorsed his view that ‘each phase of historical development has had its end in itself, and hence its own reward and satisfaction.’ Most ...

Down with Occurrences

Erin Maglaque: Baroque Excess, 3 December 2020

Out of Italy 
by Fernand Braudel, translated by Siân Reynolds.
Europa, 295 pp., £12.99, July 2019, 978 1 78770 166 3
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... was teaching at the University of São Paulo in Brazil in 1935 alongside the French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss and the Italian poet Giuseppe Ungaretti, he had been told of the decline of Europe. ‘We should no doubt have smiled disbelievingly.’How could cultures as vibrant as Baroque Italy or interwar Europe have been so radically ...

Daughters, Dress Shirts, Spotted Dick

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 3 April 1980

... in a collective life crystallised into a cognitive frame which had moral force. Forty years later, Claude Lévi-Strauss turned this argument around. If sentiments played any part at all, he asserted, it was as the consequence and not the cause of cognition. Cognition is its own explanation. It has an irreducible and invariant ‘structure’ which shapes ...

Jamboree

John Sturrock, 20 February 1986

Handbook of Russian Literature 
edited by Victor Terras.
Yale, 558 pp., £25, April 1985, 0 300 03155 6
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Verbal Art, Verbal Sign, Verbal Time 
by Roman Jakobson, edited by Krystyna Pomorska and Stephen Rudy.
Blackwell, 208 pp., £25, July 1985, 0 631 14262 2
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Historic Structures: The Prague School Project 1928-1946 
by F.W. Galan.
Croom Helm, 250 pp., £22.50, May 1985, 0 7099 3816 0
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Mikhail Bakhtin 
by Katerina Clark and Michael Holquist.
Harvard, 398 pp., £19.95, February 1985, 0 674 57416 8
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The Formal Method in Literary Scholarship: A Critical Introduction to Sociological Poetics 
by M.M. Bakhtin and P.M. Medvedev, translated by Albert Wehrle.
Harvard, 191 pp., £7.50, May 1985, 0 674 30921 9
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Dialogues between Roman Jakobson and Krystyna Pomorska 
translated by Christian Hubert.
Cambridge, 186 pp., £15, August 1983, 0 521 25113 3
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The Dialogical Principle 
by Tzvetan Todorov, translated by Wlad Godzich.
Manchester, 132 pp., £25, February 1985, 0 7190 1466 2
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Rabelais and his World 
by Mikhail Bakhtin, translated by Hélène Iswolsky.
Indiana, 484 pp., $29.50, August 1984, 0 253 20341 4
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... started by the Free French and Belgians. One of his first New York friends was a fellow teacher, Claude Lévi-Strauss: the two of them went to one another’s lectures. Listening to Jakobson’s still revolutionary ideas on phonology made Lévi-Strauss realise for the first time that he himself was a ...

Not in the Mood

Adam Shatz: Derrida’s Secrets, 22 November 2012

Derrida: A Biography 
by Benoît Peeters, translated by Andrew Brown.
Polity, 629 pp., £25, November 2012, 978 0 7456 5615 1
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... off. In all three books, Derrida’s argument was that Western thought from Plato to Rousseau to Lévi-Strauss had been hopelessly entangled in the illusion that language might provide us with access to a reality beyond language, beyond metaphor: an unmediated experience of truth and being which he called ‘presence’. Even Heidegger, a radical critic of ...

Towards the Transhuman

James Atlas, 2 February 1984

The Oxford Companion to American Literature 
by James Hart.
Oxford, 896 pp., £27.50, November 1983, 0 19 503074 5
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The Modern American Novel 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Oxford, 209 pp., £9.95, April 1983, 0 19 212591 5
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The Literature of the United States 
by Marshall Walker.
Macmillan, 236 pp., £14, November 1983, 0 333 32298 3
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American Fictions 1940-1980: A Comprehensive History and Critical Valuation 
by Frederick Karl.
Harper and Row, 637 pp., £31.50, February 1984, 0 06 014939 6
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Hugging the Shore: Essays and Criticism 
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 919 pp., £21, January 1984, 0 233 97610 8
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... ease of a novel. Again, the range is imposing – Raymond Queneau, Roland Barthes, E.M. Cioran, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Bruno Bettelheim, Peter Gay’s Art and Act, The New Oxford Book of Christian Verse – the casual erudition much in evidence. Updike is a master at summing up careers: from the letters of Kafka, Joyce, Flaubert and Hemingway he ...

Having one’s Kant and eating it

Terry Eagleton: Northrop Frye, 19 April 2001

Northrop Frye’s Late Notebooks 1982-90: Volume One 
edited by Robert Denham.
Toronto, 418 pp., £45, September 2000, 0 8020 4751 3
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Northrop Frye’s Late Notebooks 1982-90: Volume Two 
edited by Robert Denham.
Toronto, 531 pp., £45, September 2000, 0 8020 4752 1
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... and idle gossip, and badly needed transforming into an objective system. At around the same time, Claude Lévi-Strauss was hatching much the same ambitions for anthropology. In Frye’s view, criticism’s task was to seek out the objective laws by which an apparently random assemblage of literary texts secretly operated, and these laws were to be found ...

Heart and Hoof

Marjorie Garber: Seabiscuit, 4 October 2001

Seabiscuit: The Making of a Legend 
by Laura Hillenbrand.
Fourth Estate, 399 pp., £16.99, May 2001, 1 84115 091 6
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... us consider the names given to horses – not ordinary horses . . . but racehorses,’ writes Claude Lévi-Strauss, opening an excursus on equine onomastics in The Savage Mind. The names of thoroughbreds are ‘rigorously individualised’ and ‘rarely, if ever, describe them’. What counts is the way they can be seen to derive from the horse’s ...

Once upon a Real Time

Wendy Doniger, 23 March 1995

From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and Their Tellers 
by Marina Warner.
Chatto, 458 pp., £20, October 1994, 0 7011 3530 1
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... better book than her historicist claim leads us to expect; like another closet universalist, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Warner establishes principles that apply far beyond her stated subject. Oddly, or not so oddly, it is Freudians, rather than Jungians, who attract her anti-archetypal fire. ‘An archetype is a hollow thing, but a dangerous one, a ...

How Shall We Repaint the Kitchen?

Ian Hacking: The Colour Red, 1 November 2007

Cognitive Variations: Reflections on the Unity and Diversity of the Human Mind 
by G.E.R. Lloyd.
Oxford, 201 pp., £27.50, April 2007, 978 0 19 921461 7
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... of human societies that make for the cultural universals urged by anthropologists as different as Claude Lévi-Strauss and Mary Douglas. Cultures – a word that has long been overused, and which I try to avoid – are entities that exist because children are nurtured into systems of practices and reactions that define the collective lives of ...

Fritz Lang and the Life of Crime

Michael Wood, 20 April 2017

... be resolved is one I’ve treasured and admired for a long time. It belongs to the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss. He sketches it out in an essay called ‘The Structural Study of Myth’, and it underlies his magnificent four-volume series Mythologiques. ‘The purpose of myth,’ Lévi-Strauss says, ‘is to ...

The Land East of the Asterisk

Wendy Doniger: The Indo-Europeans, 10 April 2008

Indo-European Poetry and Myth 
by M.L. West.
Oxford, 525 pp., £80, May 2007, 978 0 19 928075 9
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... distinctively Indo-European’ – but only because it is, again, found in Mesopotamia. Claude Lévi-Strauss has answers for one, though not all, of these quandaries. In one stroke (in his essay ‘Split Representation in the Art of Asia and America’, in Structural Anthropology), he stopped the fight between historical diffusion and ...

Still Superior

Mark Greif: Sex and Susan Sontag, 12 February 2009

Reborn: Early Diaries, 1947-64 
by Susan Sontag, edited by David Rieff.
Hamish Hamilton, 318 pp., £16.99, January 2009, 978 0 241 14431 2
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... thinker. The closest she came to writing about a grand system-builder was a short early review of Claude Lévi-Strauss, and this was a mistake she might not have made had she known him then as the architect of French Structuralism rather than the eccentric bellettrist of Tristes Tropiques. There is no Kant, no Nietzsche, no Marx in Sontag ...

Diary

Elif Batuman: Pamuk’s Museum, 7 June 2012

... have its own special shameful melancholy, imperceptible to everyone except Istanbullus and maybe Claude Lévi-Strauss, sounds to me like an invitation for a bunch of self-important lugubrious dudes to sit around doing nothing and feeling like they’re fulfilling their Hegelian role (if only Hegel applied to the East). In response to the question about ...

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