The Jealous Potter

Overview

Hailed as the best and most generally accessible book by Claude Levi-Strauss, The Jealous Potter is a diverting series of themes and variations that explain simultaneously the relations between the insectivorous nighthawk marital jealousy, the art of pottery, and the rich creation myths of the Jivaro people of Ecuador and Peru. As Levi-Strauss freely explores the mythologies of the Americas, with occasional incursions into European and Japanese folklore, tales of sloths and squirrels interweave with discussions ...
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Overview

Hailed as the best and most generally accessible book by Claude Levi-Strauss, The Jealous Potter is a diverting series of themes and variations that explain simultaneously the relations between the insectivorous nighthawk marital jealousy, the art of pottery, and the rich creation myths of the Jivaro people of Ecuador and Peru. As Levi-Strauss freely explores the mythologies of the Americas, with occasional incursions into European and Japanese folklore, tales of sloths and squirrels interweave with discussions of Freud, Saussure, "signification," and plays by Sophocles and Labiche.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In Iroquois mythology, comets or meteors may trigger a husband to eject his wife through a hole as if she were excrement. While psychoanalysts could have a field day with this belief, French anthropologist Levi-Strauss insists that Freudians err in deciphering myths as if they employed a single symbolic code. Sexual, cosmic, zoological and technological meanings usually overlap, he claims. As proof, Levi-Strauss investigates the multiple associations of symbols common to North and South American Indian tales. Potters' kilns, fireballs, the sloth and the goatsucker all figure in a hemisphere-wide myth system pieced together by the eminent structuralist in this dense study. Themes dear to psychoanalysisoedipal conflict, oral sadism, anal retentivenessare shown to be common knowledge among Amerindian tribes. Levi-Strauss also uncovers a myth of the Jivaro Indians of the Andes that anticipates Freud's scenario of the primal horde in Totem and Taboo. (May)
Library Journal
Levi-Strauss calls his latest work ``playful exercise'' in this recapitulation of major structuralist theories. Using examples from the mythologies of mostly the Americas, and references to the works of Sebillot, Saussure, and Freud, Levi-Strauss shows the ``tranformational relationships'' and ``symbolic equivalences'' which obtain in myths from various regions. The author argues that culture-bearers unconsciously operate through codes because ``every myth confronts a problem . . . '' and ``each code brings out latent properties in a given realm of experience . . . .'' An accessible format; for academic libraries. Winnie Lambrecht, Brown Univ., Providence, R.I.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226474823
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/1996
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 260
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 3
1 A Jivaro Myth 14
2 Pottery, a "Jealous Art" 23
3 Goatsucker Myths in South America 34
4 Potters' Kilns and Cooking Fire 48
5 Goatsucker Myths in North America 59
6 Oral Greediness and Anal Retention 70
7 The Sloth as Cosmological Symbol 85
8 In Quest of Zoemes 97
9 Levels of the World 117
10 Excrement, Meteors, Jealousy, Dismembered Body 127
11 California Demiurges as Jealous Potters 142
12 Myths in the Form of Klein's Bottle 157
13 The Nature of Mythic Thought 171
14 A Jivaro Version of Totem and Taboo 185
Appendix: Tribes, Peoples, Linguistic Families 207
References 211
Abbreviations 225
Bibliography 227
Acknowledgments 251
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