Tristes Tropiques

Claude Lévi-Strauss

translated from the French
Pan Books 1989 [1955]
A book review by Danny Yee © 1992
Superficially, Tristes Tropiques is an account of Lévi-Strauss' travels in Brazil. But it begins "I hate travelling and explorers" and is hardly your typical travel story. There are some extended lyrical descriptive passages, including an eight page description of a sunset, and the narrative is interrupted by extended digressions. These include whole chapters devoted to philosophical ruminations on such topics as the status of anthropology and the differences between the higher religions.

Tristes Tropiques is certainly among the most approachable of Lévi-Strauss' works, and should be read by anyone with an interest in modern philosophy. It is guaranteed to make the reader stop and think, and then think again. It closes with the wonderful phrase "or in the brief glance, heavy with patience, serenity and mutual forgiveness, that, through some involuntary understanding, one can sometimes exchange with a cat."

August 1992

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%T Tristes Tropiques
%A Lévi-Strauss, Claude
%M French
%F Weightman, John
%F Weightman, Doreen
%I Pan Books
%D 1989 [1955]
%O paperback
%G ISBN 0330306456
%P 544pp