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Gone Primitive: Savage Intellects, Modern Lives
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Gone Primitive: Savage Intellects, Modern Lives

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  34 Ratings  ·  7 Reviews
In this acclaimed book, Torgovnick explores the obsessions,
fears, and longings that have produced Western views of the
primitive. Crossing an extraordinary range of fields
(anthropology, psychology, literature, art, and popular
culture), Gone Primitive will engage not just
specialists but anyone who has ever worn Native American
jewelry, thrilled to Indiana Jones, or considered
Paperback, 335 pages
Published August 13th 1991 by University Of Chicago Press (first published June 15th 1990)
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Apr 19, 2011 Brenda rated it liked it
Shelves: academic
Marianna Torgovnick provocatively undertakes anaylses, utilizing the wide range of the fields of anthropology, psychology, literature, and art, on how the primitive has structured Western culture. Torgovnick maintains that Western society manipulates alternately the terms noble savage or cannibal whenever an image of the primitive is evoked. In other words, Western culture vacillates between emulating the one and fear of the other. Torgovnick analyzes these fears, obsessions, and longings as Wes ...more
Torgovnick closely reads and contextualizes a list of modern intellectuals and discovers that most of them are basically just masturbating to images of topless natives. Extremely readable despite its academic intentions, she offers a corrective to viewing the primitive as a stage on the path towards modernism or as the personification of Freud's "id" (and therefore something to be suppressed by a colonizing "superego"). Hitting me where I live is what I'll call a blackface tendency, to use the p ...more
Jan 16, 2010 Jean rated it it was amazing
This book was a “wow” for me. It’s not an easy read, but it's well researched, provocative, interesting, and works steadily toward building its case. It’s older, published in 1990 by the University of Chicago Press, but feels fresh. It makes a lot of illuminating points about culture – particularly western culture’s view of other culture’s – and objectification. Its arguments are made within chapters with titles like “Taking Tarzan Seriously” that go into great detail about things like cultural ...more
Sep 18, 2009 Ginger rated it liked it
I really enjoyed Torgovnick's critique of multiple uses of the "Primitive" in pop culture. The sections on Tarzan had me giggling, as well as her look at Levi-Strauss.

For someone versed in modern anthropology or primitive art critique there is nothing revolutionary here, but she writes with a clarity that I found refreshing.
Jan 29, 2008 Bonnie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
This is a mixture of lit crit and cultural critique. Sometimes this book is a bit esoteric, but Torgovnick has a lot of very true things to say about our society and its fascination with the primitive. The chapters on Tarzan are my favorite.
Emma Flaim
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Nov 29, 2007 Rachael rated it liked it
another solid primitivism text. some thorough initial discussion in the first few chapters.
Sandy rated it it was amazing
Apr 08, 2012
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Sep 09, 2009 Jose Palafox marked it as to-read
Et tu, Zerzan?
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