cover image Conversations with Claude Levi-Strauss

Conversations with Claude Levi-Strauss

Claude Levi-Strauss, Didier Eribon. University of Chicago Press, $28 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-226-47475-5

In these kinetic, irreverent, engaging, unpredictable interviews with French journalist Eribon, eminent cultural anthropologist Levi-Strauss speaks with a rare degree of candor about his life and work. He confesses that his ethnological vocation is partly a flight from a century in which he does not feel at home. Mellowing at age 80, the structuralist recalls his childhood participation in rites conducted by his grandfather, a rabbi, and then confesses, ``I get along better with believers than with out-and-out rationalists.'' Levi-Strauss reviews his research on marriage and kinship patterns, argues that the incest prohibition is culturally imposed, and mourns the fate of so-called primitive tribes under callous Third World regimes as he discusses racism, politics, musical creativity, literature and painting. An intellectual event, this memoir-in-conversation records his encounters with a host of figures--Sartre (``a being unto himself''), De Beauvoir, Foucault, Max Ernst, Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead. (May)