The Other Face of the Moon

Claude Levi-Strauss, translated from the French by Jane Marie Todd. Harvard/Belknap, $22.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-674-07292-3
This new slim compendium of eminent anthropologist Levi-Strauss's lectures, interviews, and musings reflect his adoration and intellectual curiosity about all things Japanese. Interweaving moments of personal and professional significance, Levi-Strauss (Tristes Tropiques) recounts the trajectory of an intrigue generated by a childhood fascination with Japanese prints given to him by his father that later evolved into his love of Japanese literature, food, and practices. Between 1977 and 1988 he visited the country five times with his wife and this provides the basis for his attentive anthropological analysis of Japanese cultural practices concerning religion, music, and everyday life. Most compelling is his discussion of Japanese myths and their resonance with certain themes in the folk-tales of South America, Europe, and the indigenous populations of the Pacific Coast. At times laudatory to a fault, this is not a collection of overwhelming scholarship; rather it is a telling portrait of the intellectual captivation and curiosity of a pivotal figure in the history of anthropology. This collection illuminates the zeal that motivates Levi-Strauss's anthropological work and is therefore a pleasant read for anyone with an interest in Japan, cultural difference, or anthropological studies. Photo insert. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/18/2013
Release date: 03/01/2013
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