Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sunday Salon 13 July THE GIFT by Lewis Hyde

This book comes highly recommended by Margaret Atwood and Zadie Smith. It has a subtitle: how he creative spirit transforms the World.

Chapter 1 looks at folk tales about gift giving. Traditionally, gift-giving is circular. In the Kula community of New Guinea two types of gifts are passed around in different directions. For the women there is a string of red shells, while the men have a bangle made from a large white shell. Gifts are never kept because then they lose their power. The giver is the one that accrues benefit. In the Maori society the circle includes the forest; when the forest yields food than a little of what it yields is given back. This, Lewis Hyde says, is the start of ecology. Man is part, rather than lord, of his environment.


Blogger Josette said...

There are a few books which have the title 'The Gift' and it's quite confusing. I bought a second-hand book called The Gift too but it's written by Peter Dickinson!

Sun Jul 13, 07:33:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting, it sounds like a book that I would enjoy. Does he treat Potlatch as one of his subjects?

Sun Jul 13, 11:43:00 am  
Blogger Clare Dudman said...

Yes, Josette - not a terribly good title in that way, I guess - but seems apt for this book itself.

Yes, FrumiousB, the second chapter considers the Potlatch in quite some detail - interesting stuff, and not something I'd come across before.

Sun Jul 13, 12:05:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That sounds like a fascinating book. I'm reading The White Mary right now, which takes place in Papau New Guinea. I'll have to check this one out. Thanks!

Sun Jul 13, 06:38:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to work with a theater company called Potlatch back in the day. We were very into creativity and performance as gift-- hence my interest.

Mon Jul 14, 09:55:00 am  

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