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Totemism Paperback – June 1, 1971

ISBN-13: 978-0807046715 ISBN-10: 080704671X Edition: 1st.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; 1st. edition (June 1, 1971)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080704671X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807046715
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #660,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Levi-Strauss's consideration of totemism is a theoretical tour de force." – The Humanist

"An exeptionally brilliant and pathbreaking thinker. Serious students cannot afford to miss this book." – Library Journal 

"From the startling analogy in its very first line to its valedictory bow in the direction of Rousseau, this is a stimulating book." – American Anthropologist 

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Michel Heller on February 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
A classic of 20th Century intellectual creativity, that has been recognized as such, but that has not yet received the full attention it deserves. It has momentarelly be dispensed of as "old fashioned", when social sciences based on neuro-sciences has clearly not yet integrated the vast webb of implications the formulations of this volume generate.
An absolute must, even - or because - many formulations are arguable. It is not a book that proposes conclusions, but awakens our intelligence.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had no intention of reading this book. The book I wanted to read was Levi-Strauss’s THE SAVAGE MIND. However, that book begins with “This book is complete in itself, but the problems it discusses are closely linked to those which I surveyed more hastily in a recent work entitled TOTEMISM (trans. Rodney Needham, London, 1964). Without wishing to oblige the reader to refer to it, it is proper to draw his attention to the connection between the two: the first forms a kind of historical and critical introduction to the second.” So I put down the book and ordered TOTEMISM. I do not have a strong background in anthropology. My reason for reading the book is to research another project.

“Totemism” was the most difficult thing for me to understand in Durkheim’s THE ELEMENTARY FORMS OF RELIGIOUS LIFE. But I just decided that it wasn’t important for me to understand for my particular project. However, I was obviously not the only one who didn’t understand “Totemism.” On reading this book, I now understood why: because there’s no such thing! (Levi-Strauss compares it to writing about “Hysteria.”) Levi-Strauss carefully lays out all the reasons that such eminent and respected minds as Boas, Malinowsky, and Durkheim (among others) were mistaken. Most of the time, I had no difficulty following Levi-Strauss’s arguments, but I occasionally found it helpful to read some brief encyclopedic entries about some of the people and things he mentions. But those with a better background should have no problem. This was, for me at least, a fascinating book and I was awed by the solution that Levi-Strauss comes up with. According to him, the anthropologists had got it all wrong! For the correct answer, look all the way back to Rousseau (!) and then hear what the 20th Century philosopher Henri Bergson has to say. And Levi-Strauss makes it seem perfectly obvious. I can’t wait to start THE SAVAGE MIND. Five stars.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 28, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved this book, even did a painting on it. I can't imagine not having read it.
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5 of 17 people found the following review helpful By J. Shepard on January 23, 2009
Format: Paperback
Don't read this book for pleasure. Only read it if you have to. It's useful if you have a good reason to read it.
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