Ruth Benedict: Stranger in This Land

Margaret M. Caffrey, Author University of Texas Press $19.95 (448p) ISBN 978-0-292-74655-8
Ruth Benedict's Patterns of Culture is still widely read, but how many readers are aware that this anthropologist was also a modernist poet, part of the Lyricist circle that included Elinor Wylie, Edna St. Vincent Millay and Louise Bogan? How many know that she considered herself a feminist, convinced of the need to do away with the ``dead rubbish of conventionalism'' surrounding women? In this impassioned, masterful biography, Caffrey, assistant professor of history at Memphis State University, treats Benedict's life as an exhilarating intellectual adventure. An emotionally withdrawn farm girl who suffered from attacks of vomiting and partial deafness, Benedict blossomed under her academic mentor Franz Boas. As her marriage to controlling, strong-willed Stanley Benedict withered, she became a close friend, then lover, of Margaret Mead. Her disillusionment with Judeo-Christianity, her study of myths as collective wish-fulfillment and her rejection of Victorian prudery all found expression in her cultural relativism. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
Open Ebook - 978-0-292-75366-2
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-0-292-75364-8
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