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3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  117 ratings  ·  7 reviews

From the back cover: "This work is significant not only for students of anthropology but for students of philosophy and psychology as well. The distinguished anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss examines here the great variety of beliefs encompassed by totemism, the attacks to which it has been subject, and the constant attempts to restore useful meaning to it. His account d

Paperback, First English translation, 128 pages
Published June 1st 1971 by Beacon Press (first published 1962)
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The boy in the library had a totem but he didn't know it until I gave it to him. His arcane consciousness so much older than his obvious years, his shaggy hair, feminine looks, big brown pupils, long eyelashes. I studied him. I flashed on his totem, it was the priapic spring of woodbine I cut outside that morning. When I took his Totem to his solitary table he looked up. I saw small fears in his eyes, I saw mischievous recognition.

The woodbine was wrapped nicely in a damp paper towel so it woul...more
Unless you've done some reading on Totemism, this probably won't be an enjoyable read. Unlike some of his other stuff, where he starts fresh and brings in other works much later, this one is deep in the texts of early 1900s Anthropology. Expect to need to be familiar with Durkheim, "Papa" Boaz, Evans Prichard, and a host of members from the colorful cast that was the British school of Structuralism.

Hell, I was prone to like liking this as a fan of Levi-Strauss, but I didn't really get friendly w...more
It's funny the kinds of things you turn up when you dig through your physical bookshelves-- this is a book I bought, it's probably close to twenty years ago now, and never read. But since I read Freud's Totem and Taboo, I thought I'd give this one a shot.

For me, it's primarily interesting as a way to set up Derrida's argument in his "Structure and Sign" essay. The argument L-S is making, I think, is that totemism, which sure feels "natural" is bound up in exogamy (that is, the incest taboo) whic...more
Everything I'm going to say in this review would be picked apart by Levi Strauss because he's very sharp. What I'm saying in this review wouldn't satisfy him or an expert on him so take it all with skepticism. This review is also an unedited mess.

Most of this book is a critique of other philosophers and anthropologists who study totemism. Most of the basis of what Levi Stauss says comes from an iteration of what someone else said. It is important to realize that Levi Strauss wrote this book with...more
Michael sinkofcabbages
no i did not have to read this for a class. I think for such a seminal Author and for how short the book is; everyone should read this book. I know that its isnt everyons cup of tea, but there are so many things to take from this. Just for a different point of sight is worth it enough. Let alone how people view in-animate objects in thier lives. Just the whole value and power of the use of "masks" can have you thinking for days on how this applies to modern cultural "masks".
Give it a try, youll...more
I can't really give it any more than three stars for the basic reason that I didn't take it all in. I read it all, but I can't remember most of it, as is the case with most of the things I have to read for uni >_>'. What I read and understand, I found interesting and enjoyed reading. But I think before I can decide whether to give it more than 3 stars or not, I'd need to re-read it, which I'm planning on doing (someday).
Anthony D Buckley
A seminal work. The topic is ostensibly totemism, but more profoundly, Levi-Strauss unveils an entire methodology, showing, inter alia, how metaphor organizes social organization.
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Claude Lévi-Strauss was a French anthropologist, well-known for his development of structural anthropology. He was born on November 28, 1908 in Belgium as the son of an artist, and a member of an intellectual French Jewish family. Lévi-Strauss studied at the University of Paris. From 1935-9 he was Professor at the University of Sao Paulo making several expeditions to central Brazil. Between 1942-1...more
More about Claude Lévi-Strauss...
Tristes Tropiques The Savage Mind Structural Anthropology Myth and Meaning The Raw and the Cooked: Mythologiques, Volume 1

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