Monday, November 9, 2009

J.M.G. Le Clézio on the passing of Claude Lévi-Strauss

A beautiful consideration of the recently deceased philosopher and anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss by Nobel Prize–winning Godine author J.M.G. Le Clézio at the New York Times:

'What always struck me most about Mr. Lévi-Strauss’s thought was his ability to dodge the traps of modern ethnology, sometimes so much like old colonialism. There is an enormous difference between Mr. Lévi-Strauss and his most notable predecessors, E. E. Evans-Pritchard or Bronislaw Malinowski: his humanity and his melancholy kindness, which made him reluctant to go into the field for fear of intruding on the people he studied or finding himself disappointed by what had been lost to the evolution of modern times.

'Still, Claude Lévi-Strauss overcame his reluctance and went, opening our minds to the extraordinary complexity of the Bororo’s and Nambikwara’s way of life. He expressed in his books the beauty and intelligibility of myths. And he kept in his heart the warmth and the modesty of the young man he once was, a man who was struck by a pessimistic sympathy for dying civilizations, dying people.'

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