The Cambridge Companion to Lévi-Strauss

There used to be a widely held view in Western Europe that we were the ‘civilised’ peoples and that less advanced peoples were savages. It was all very much Dr Livingstone taking the light of the Gospel and truth out to darkest Africa. Well, they certainly got the Gospel and we got the land. This view pertained probably up to the Second War.

Instrumental in breaking that prejudice down was Claude Lévi-Strauss. ( During the 1930s he studied native Brazilian tribes in the Amazonian jungle. He became the key thinker in a new group of ‘structural’ anthropologists. The basic insight here is that there could be a search for the underlying patterns of thought in all forms of human activity. His books about the nature of myth, human thought and kinship are now seen as some of the most important anthropological texts written in the twentieth century.

This volume (2009), edited by Boris Wiseman, presents fifteen specially-commissioned essays about this intellectual. He was so massively influential that there seems no choice but to come to terms with his thought.

Listen to the BBC Radio 4 broadcast (May 2013) about Lévi-Strauss available as a podcast at

350 pages in Cambridge University Press

First published 2009

ISBN 978-0521608671

Claude Lévi-Strauss

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