The Jivaro tribe, or Achuar, as they prefer to be known, have survived in isolation in the Amazonian jungle by headhunting. They have preserved a tribal life which resembles that of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Only one representative of civilized society, Philippe Descola has been admitted to their company. This book depicts an unfamiliar civilization whose values are often bizarre to Western eyes. Over 20 years of increasing intimacy with the Achuar, Descola has produced a portrait of a culture no less complex than our own. He describes their myths, their interpretation of dreams and their concepts of time and nature and leadership.
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"Descola is an intellectual with dirty feet. Trained by Claude Lévi Strauss, he and his mysterious companion 'Anne Christine' throw themselves into Achuar society with commendable naivety and honesty. After initial incomprehension, Descola is amazed at the emotional sophistication and intellectual diversity he finds: here is a society that lives by its dreams and places the very highest value of social philosophy on the realisation of an individual's destiny, freely mastered and within the reach of everyone. Descola throws wise doubt on Western notions of time, heritage, power, authority and rule. The reader wants to put an arm round him and congratulate an extraordinary man."
JOHN VIDAL, 'Guardian'
"Where are the Captain Cooks, the Wilfred Thesigers – where are the 'Seven Years in Tibet' – of our age? Where are the studies whose author has not dipped a toe but submersed himself in Otherness: the stories we read not out of curiosity about the writer, but, forgetting the writer, burning to know what he has found? Philippe Descola has made such a journey and written such a book. One makes the judgment at one's peril, but I think 'The Spears of Twilight' may come to be read as one of the great anthropological adventures of modern literature. Descola has woven a tale as elusive, as spiritual, as it is authoritative; as magical as it is scientific."
MATTHEW PARRIS, 'The Times'
"In this account, anthropological insight and personal experience have been brought together to produce a richly detailed ethnography that will undoubtedly stand the test of time… Perhaps the greatest achievement of the book is that the Achuar who populate its pages emerge strongly as credible, rounded characters, whose values and beliefs may seem very strange, even bizarre, but whose essential humanity is not in doubt… Should the Achuar of the late twenty-first century seek any monument to their past, here they will surely find one. In the same vein as and of equal stature to 'Tristes Tropiques', a classic."
PAUL HENLEY, 'TLS'
"'The Spears of Twilight' feels classical, almost Biblical, in its sweep and many of its themes: it is the story of a people. It is a tribute to Descola's sensitivity that this reads as a book written not only for us but for the Achuar themselves.
BEN ROGERS, 'Independent on Sunday'
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Book Description Flamingo, 1997. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110006863523