Edmund Leach

  • Myth, Religion and Society: Structuralist Essays by M. Detienne, L. Gernet, J-P. Vernant and P. Vidal-Naquet, edited by R.L. Gordon
    Cambridge/Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, 306 pp, £20.00, January 1982, ISBN 0 521 22780 1
  • The Anthropological Circle: Symbol, Function, History by Marc Augé
    Cambridge/Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, 131 pp, £12.50, January 1982, ISBN 0 521 23236 8

Apart from the fact that they are products of the same international publishing enterprise, and that they are both translations from the French, there is not much that these two books have in common, so my comments will be seriatim. The earliest of the essays in the Gordon collection, which is by Gernet, who died in 1962 at the age of 80, first appeared as long ago as 1948; the remainder at various dates since 1968. Of the latter, three are by Vernant, five by Vidal-Naquet, three by Detienne. The fact that the Gernet item (‘ “Value” in Greek Myth’) bears a clear family resemblance to the rest is of special interest since it shows that the structuralism of the French classicist ‘School of Vernet’ has other roots besides Lévi-Strauss’s ‘The Structural Study of Myth’, which dates only from 1955. English versions of five of these essays have been published previously but the editor is personally responsible for what is printed here. The resulting English text, by several hands, is consistently lucid and readable. To an outsider such as myself the scholarship appears dazzling.

The full text of this book review is only available to subscribers of the London Review of Books.

You are not logged in