"A magical masterpiece."—Robert Ardrey. A chronicle of the author's search for a civilization "reduced to its most basic expression."
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"I hate travelling and explorers," famously declared Claude Lévi-Strauss, but how fortunate for readers that he should overcome his loathing to write about his experiences among the indigenous peoples of the Brazilian interior, including the Caduveo, Bororo, and Nambikwara tribes. Those who know Lévi-Strauss and Tristes Tropiques by reputation only will be pleasantly surprised by the intimate tone that colors even its most precise anthropological sections, as well as the autobiographical passages at the beginning, in which the author recounts how he fell into his career and how, shortly after the Nazis occupied Paris, he was forced to flee to America in a grueling sea voyage. Twenty-five black-and-white photographs of tribespeople, as well as numerous line drawings, accompany the text.From the Inside Flap:
Tristes Tropiques is one of the great books of our century," said Susan Sontag. "It is rigorous, subtle, and bold in thought. It is beauti-
fully written. And, like all great books, it bears an absolutely personal stamp; it speaks with a human voice."
Tristes Tropiques was an immensely popular bestseller when it was first published in
France in 1955. Claude Lévi-Strauss's ground-
breaking study of the societies of a number of Amazonian peoples is a cornerstone of structural anthropology and an exploration by the author of his own intellectual roots as a professor of philosophy in Brazil before the Second World War, as a Jewish exile from Nazi-occupied Europe, and later as a world-renowned academic (he taught at New York's New School for Social Research and was French cultural attaché to the United States). Lévi-Strauss's central journey leads from the Amazon basin through the dense upland jungles of Brazil. There, among the Amerindian tribes--the Caduveo, Bororo, Nambikwara, and Tupi-Kawahib--he found "a human society reduced to its most basic expression." Lévi-Strauss's discussion of his fieldwork in Tristes Tropiques endures as a milestone of anthropology, but the book is also, in its brilliant diversions on other, more familiar cultures, a great work of literature, a vivid travelogue, and an engaging memoir--a demonstration of the marvelous mental agility of one of the century
's most important thinkers.
Presented here is the translation by John and Doreen Weightman of the complete text of the revised French edition of 1968, together with the original photographs and illustrations.
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