Claude Lévi-Strauss, Wild Thought – a new translation of La pensée sauvage – translated by Jeffrey Mehlman and John Leavitt, University of Chicago Press, December 2020
Perhaps the most influential anthropologist of his generation, Claude Lévi-Strauss left a profound mark on the development of twentieth-century thought, equal to that of phenomenology and existentialism. Through a fertile mixture of insights gleaned from linguistics and from sociology and ethnology, Lévi-Strauss elaborated his theory of structural unity in culture and became the preeminent representative of structural anthropology. La Pensée sauvage, published in French in 1962, was his crowning achievement. Ranging over philosophies, historical periods, and human societies, it challenged the prevailing assumption of the superiority of modern Western culture and sought to explain the unity of human intellection.
Unfortunately titled The Savage Mind when it first published in English in 1966, the original translation nevertheless sparked a fascination with Lévi-Strauss’s work among generations of Anglophone readers. Wild Thought: A New Translation of “La Pensée sauvage” rekindles that spark with a fresh and accessible new translation. Including critical annotations for the contemporary reader, it restores the accuracy and integrity of the book that changed the course of twentieth-century thought, making it an indispensable addition to any philosophical and anthropological library.