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Passage to Africa

D.A.N. Jones, 7 July 1983

Africa Dances 
by Geoffrey Gorer.
Penguin, 218 pp., £2.95, January 1983, 0 14 009502 0
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Nigerian Kaleidoscope 
by Rex Niven.
Hurst/Archon, 278 pp., £13.50, January 1983, 0 905838 59 9
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Stepping-Stones 
by Sylvia Leith-Ross, edited by Michael Crowder.
Peter Owen, 191 pp., £10.95, February 1983, 0 7206 0600 4
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Female and Male in West Africa 
edited by Christine Oppong.
Allen and Unwin, 402 pp., £18.50, April 1983, 0 04 301158 6
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Memories of Our Recent Boom 
by Kole Omotoso.
Longman, 232 pp., £1.50, May 1983, 0 582 78572 3
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... One was picturesque and picaresque, Africa Dances: A Book about West African Negroes, published by Geoffrey Gorer in 1935 when he was 30, after a rather Waugh-like tour of French and British territories: he had been guided by Féral Benga, a ballet dancer from Senegal whom he had met in Paris. The striking pictures included a smoky painting of handsome ...

The Swaddling Thesis

Thomas Meaney: Margaret Mead, 6 March 2014

Return from the Natives: How Margaret Mead Won the Second World War and Lost the Cold War 
by Peter Mandler.
Yale, 366 pp., £30, March 2013, 978 0 300 18785 4
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... of whose members were also her lovers: Ruth Benedict, Edward Sapir, Reo Fortune, Gregory Bateson, Geoffrey Gorer. In retracing the exploits of this scholarly ménage à plusieurs, and in recovering their ideas alongside their passions, Mandler has captured a defining moment in the history of American anthropology, when it refashioned itself under the ...

Middle American

Edmund Leach, 7 March 1985

Margaret Mead: A Life 
by Jane Howard.
Harvill, 527 pp., £12.95, October 1984, 0 00 272515 0
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With a Daughter’s Eye: A Memoir of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson 
by Mary Catherine Bateson.
Morrow, 242 pp., $15.95, July 1984, 0 688 03962 6
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... was bisexual. Her affair with her teacher Ruth Benedict lasted for many years, as did that with Geoffrey Gorer. Without these two ‘intense liaisons’ it is unlikely that the bizarre research project known as the Study of Culture at a Distance and its successors would ever have got off the ground. Howard describes these enterprises with appropriate ...

Anthropology as it should be

Robin Fox: Colin Turnbull, 9 August 2001

In the Arms of Africa: The Life of Colin Turnbull 
by Roy Richard Grinker.
St Martin’s, 354 pp., £19.75, August 2000, 0 312 22946 1
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... 1959), Meyer Fortes told me that it had been formed ‘to prevent people like Geoffrey Gorer from calling themselves social anthropologists’. But while the ASA might keep the Gorers and Meads out, it was susceptible to defection from within. Turnbull was urged to do his doctorate at Oxford (as opposed to Cambridge, Manchester or the ...

The Balboan View

Kenneth Silverman: Alfred Kinsey, 7 May 1998

Alfred Kinsey: A Public/Private Life 
by James Jones.
Norton, 937 pp., £28, October 1997, 0 393 04086 0
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... protested that Kinsey made orgasm ‘the summum bonum of his value scheme’; the anthropologist Geoffrey Gorer charged that the only reliable figures in his skewed sampling came from ‘college graduates in six of the north-eastern states’; the critic Lionel Trilling claimed that his seemingly objective data masked highly debatable assumptions. Most ...

Mass-Observation in the Mall

Ross McKibbin, 2 October 1997

... 20th-century caution, to think that the enormous fund of popular ‘religion’ which surprised Geoffrey Gorer in the early Fifties has much diminished. He noted the widespread belief in astrology, spiritualism, an afterlife, in the power of prayer, charms and good luck, which he attributed to the feeling of helplessness which (he thought) so many ...

Streamlined Smiles

Rosemary Dinnage: Erik Erikson, 2 March 2000

Identity’s Architect: A Biography of Erik Erikson 
by Lawrence Friedman.
Free Association, 592 pp., £15.95, May 1999, 9781853434716
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... his unusual background, was the man to step forward, though others – Margaret Mead, Erich Fromm, Geoffrey Gorer – were writing along the same lines. Friedman quotes Erikson’s account of how he first saw the centrality of his concept when he was one of a panel examining traumatised war veterans. Always averse to the psychoanalytical view of the world ...

Putting things in boxes

Adam Kuper: Margaret Mead, 24 May 2007

To Cherish the Life of the World: Selected Letters of Margaret Mead 
edited by Margaret Caffrey and Patricia Francis.
Basic Books, 429 pp., £17.99, September 2006, 0 465 00815 1
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... and enemies, together with Benedict and another lover, the predominantly homosexual English writer Geoffrey Gorer. After the war Bateson had a series of affairs, which Mead tolerated. ‘I have always been prepared for you to want more than I can offer at 46, and by that very wanting turn towards younger women,’ she wrote to him. She even helped him to ...

De Mortuis

Christopher Driver, 28 June 1990

The Ruffian on the Stair: Reflection on Death 
edited by Rosemary Dinnage.
Viking, 291 pp., £14.99, April 1990, 0 670 82763 0
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Death, Ritual and Bereavement 
edited by Ralph Houlbrooke.
Routledge, 250 pp., £35, October 1990, 0 415 01165 5
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In the Face of Death 
by Peter Noll, translated by Hans Noll.
Viking, 254 pp., £15.99, April 1990, 0 670 80703 6
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... Dying’ to alleviate the Christmas ordeal and his father was orphaned as a baby. Chance put Geoffrey Gorer’s pioneer study of Death, Grief and Mourning (1965), dust-jacketed in tasteful purple, into my hands for a review. An assiduous hymn-singer, I had long realised that centuries other than ours had different views on the subject, especially ...

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