Claude Levi-Strauss, the 'father of modern anthropology' and author of the classic Tristes tropiques, was one of the most influential intellectuals of the second half of the twentieth century. Dislodging Sartre, Camus and de Beauvoir from the pinnacle of French intellectual life in the 1950s, he brought about a sea change in Western thought and inspired a generation of thinkers and writers, including Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes and Jacques Lacan with his structuralist theories. Levi-Strauss's bohemian childhood and later studies of the emerging discipline of anthropology in the field and the university led him to mix with intellectuals, artists and poets from all over Europe. Tracing the evolution of his ideas through interviews with the man himself, research into his archives and conversations with contemporary anthropologists, Wilcken explores and explains Levi-Strauss's theories, revealing an artiste manque who infused his academic writing with an artistic and poetic sensibility.
Essential for those interested in the development of ideas, and fascinating for anyone who studied humanities at university in the 1980s and '90s when structuralism was at its height Wide review coverage of this full biography of this intellectual giant guaranteed.
'An intellectual biography that briskly and brilliantly assesses the great, original, creative ideas and their origins in the context of Levi-Strauss's life from the 1930s to the 1960s in Brazil, New York and Paris' - The Times Biographies of the Year
'Both a gratifyingly clear summary of a difficult body of work and a eulogy for a time "when the stream of consciousness of one mind could leave a deep cultural imprint"' - New Yorker
'Illuminating ... This book, with an admiring but not slavish appreciation of its subject ... appreciates and communicates the grandeur of its subject's accomplishments' - New York Times
'[Wilcken] lays out the life with clarity, efficiency, readability and occasionally dissent ... A superbly thrilling life' - Guardian
Patrick Wilcken grew up in Sydney and studied at Goldsmiths College and the Institute of Latin American Studies in London. He has contributed Brazil-related reviews and features to the Times Literary Supplement and the Guardian. He is the author of Empire Adrift: He has spent lengthy periods in Rio de Janeiro and now lives in London with his wife and child.