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The Gift: How the Creative Spirit Transforms the World

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  194 ratings  ·  23 reviews
* What are the most important gifts in life?
* What is the value of art in our society?
* Are we in danger of ignoring our most precious commodity?

A brilliantly argued defence of the importance of creativity in our increasingly money-orientated society, The Gift is a modern classic. It is even more relevant now than when it originally appeared twenty years ago. One of the mo
Paperback, 345 pages
Published September 6th 2007 by Canongate Books
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3.65  · 
Rating details
 ·  194 ratings  ·  23 reviews

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Jay Green
Not what I was hoping for. The subtitle suggests that this is a work of psychology or anthropology, and it starts out that way, but the second half of the book is devoted to case studies of Walt Whitman and Ezra Pound that do not live up to the book's billing. I was hoping for something that might carry Marcel Mauss's anthropological study of the Gift economy a step further to show its applicability to the world of artistic production and creativity, but I was disappointed.
Dec 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rereading, favorites
This books gets me in the mood, creatively speaking, more reliably and more deeply than any other. Maybe I'm already primed by the time I pick it up, but still I highly recommend to artists and aspiring, cynical, doubtful creators that need a little help sometimes getting in the zone. This might help you reconnect to that thing inside of you that digs and gnaws all the time, but stays frustratingly elusive most of the time.
Michael Dipietro
Jul 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: never-finished
WHY has it taken me so long to start reading this??

"The mythology of the rich in the overproducing nations that the poor are in on some secret about satisfaction - black "soul", gypsy duende, the noble savage, the simple farmer, the virile game keeper - obscures the harshness of modern capitalist poverty, but it does have a basis, for people who live in voluntary poverty or who are not capital-intensive do have more ready access to erotic forms of exchange that are neither exhausting nor exhaus
Sep 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Until 3 minutes ago, according to Good Reads I had been reading this book for the last 11 years. In some ways I think I have. What is reciprocity in a world run on exploitation? I don't think this book is meant to be read all at once. You're supposed to come back to its stories, reflect, and decide where your own values lie (double entendre intended). How does the gift of the artist fit into such a world? It is the fundamental human story of bridging the rift between self and other "The Soul, re ...more
This book was originally published in 1979, and it seems like books were just written differently prior to the ‘90’s. It is long winded, and attempts to make every point in very circular, tangential, roundabout manner, so you forget what the original point was supposed to be!

I guess I thought this book was going to be more about why creating art is a gift to the artist, and the art itself is a gift to the viewer or buyer. I, perhaps, imagined there were going to be inspirational passages about
Perry Whitford
- starts by referring to Marcel Maus essay on gifts in archaic societies based around the potlatch
- gifts increase in value when they are passed on or 'consumed', with the act of giving 'the transaction itself consumes the object'
- uses various folk tales to illustrate how a gift should be passed on
- if you pay for something you have no gratitude for it. The services of AA are free, but the twelfth and final step in the program is to become a mentor. In the same way, 'a return gift is the final
Jan 09, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elements of greatness; sadly outnumbered by moments where the writer strays into utter pretension and way too far from the original path. I'm speaking about the Whitman and Pound chapters specifically. A shame as spoilt the tone and train of thought of the whole work that came before.
Crista Cloutier
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
I started this book 4 times. Kept putting it down but then coming back to it because it showed up on my radar over and over again. Life was telling me to read it.

I am so glad I did. It gave me much to think about. But it was a very challenging read!
John Robertson
Oct 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A must read for all creatives, inspiring, with useful insights and ideas for current and future "art" in our market driven societies, highly recommended
Maggi Horseman
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I recommend this book all the time about how the nature of creativity doesn't work in a capitalist market.
Feb 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: struggling creative types (successful or un-)
Shelves: non-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This book provides a new perspective on what it means to have a gift (as an artist does), to give a gift, to receive a gift, and how the giving of gifts transforms the world. It's all about the ripple effect, really. Each of us has a gift to give. That we share it makes all the difference.

That's my summary of the book. The part I didn't like so much was the long-winded analysis of Walt Whitman and Ezra Pound, their lives and poetry. That half of the book was used to bolster his point about gifts
Neil P
Aug 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Not to be confused with Danielle Steel's passionate love fumble. In the first section, Hyde's analysis of gift exchange throughout history and anthropology is replete with wonderful examples and comparison of reciprocal and gift economies and crucially examines the limitations and potentialities of them within our world. Despite a re-jig there are moments when one realises that this was written sometime ago, and that many new perspectives are floating concurrently. In the second section, the aut ...more
Feb 27, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book really only gets 2.5 stars from me. I did enjoy most of part one and learning about gift exchange across cultures and history. I marked several parts of interest to further my study on the topic. Because of that, I had high hopes for part two to offer a concrete perspective on living a creative life. Highly disappointed on that front. The author does acknowledge at the end his research led him to a different conclusion than he originally suspected. I can respect that he let his finding ...more
Sep 23, 2009 rated it liked it
The book was, appropriately, a gift from a friend. Thought-provoking and relevant to the need for a new economic paradigm that the latest economic crisis demands. I liked the wide-ranging references to different cultures, uncovering customs submerged by modernism, visiting both remote island tribes and old folklore closer to home. The book offers a well-reasoned, erudite and entertaining analysis in order to champion the virtues of generosity and counter the selfishness of 21st century society. ...more
Apr 26, 2012 rated it liked it
This book was a bit of a slog to get through, and not quite what I thought it would be. I went through the first half (which is mainly a study of gift theory and gift exchange through history and in different cultures) waiting to get to the second part, which I had expected to be more enjoyable. However, I found the second half too narrowly focused on Whitman and Pound, and it turned out the first half had been more enjoyable to read. I didn't focus an awful lot on it and didn't get a lot from i ...more
Hated this book. Just didn't connect with it at all. It seriously tested my rule of never giving up on a book. In the end, I read it all but didn't take in a single word. To be honest, I really didn't understand what the author was trying to convey and it certainly wasn't what I thought it was going to be.
May 26, 2013 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: enemies
Sophomoric, at best. Some may find it reductive, even insulting to the cultures that are referenced in the early chapters. It may contain enough interesting content to fill a small pamphlet, but overall it's of little value to creative people. Read a good book instead.
Toney Apalisok
Jul 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I never thought I'll ever be say this but, THIS BOOK CHANGED MY LIFE!!!!!! Recommending it to everyone, and not just folks within the creative field!
Nov 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Not too keen on the anthropology of the first part but found the second part really interesting.
Jude Brigley
Mar 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I love it. I believe it. I try my best to live it.
Simon K
Jan 21, 2009 rated it liked it
Meditation on the nature of Giving - a little turgid, but worth the work
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Feb 24, 2013
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