Free Shipping on Orders of $40 or More


by Vincent Crapanzano


by Vincent Crapanzano




A distinguished anthropologist tells his life story as a wistful novelist would, watching himself as if he were someone else

This memoir recaptures meaningful moments from the author’s life: as his childhood on the grounds of a psychiatric hospital, his psychiatrist father’s early death, his years at school in Switzerland and then at Harvard in the 1960s, his love affairs, his own teaching, and his far-flung travels. Taken together, these stories have the power of a nothing-taken-for-granted vision, fighting those conventions and ideologies that deaden the creative and inquiring mind.

Related collections and offers

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781590518380
Publisher: Other Press, LLC
Publication date: 07/25/2017
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Vincent Crapanzano is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature and Anthropology at the CUNY Graduate Center. He is the author of six books—The Fifth World of Forster Bennett: Portrait of a NavajoThe Hamadsha: A Study in Moroccan EthnopsychiatryTuhami: Portrait of a MoroccanWaiting: The Whites of South AfricaHermes’ Dilemma & Hamlet’s Desire: On the Epistemology of Interpretation, and Serving the Word: Literalism in America from the Pulpit to the Bench—and has published articles in major periodicals and academic journals such as American Anthropologist, Les Temps Modernes, The New Yorker, New York Times and Times Literary Supplement. He lives in New York City.

Read an Excerpt

I am laughing at myself—but not without irony, I hope, since I’m also assuming a platform and conscripting you, my readers, as interlocutors. It is easier to throw away a book than extract yourself from a conversation that depends on face-to-face encounters to continue. The thought is depressing. Baring narcissists like Anaïs Nin, who can’t imagine anyone not being enchanted by their story, most autobiographers and memoirists have to give their life a raison d’être that transcends it. They are looking to produce something exemplary — a moral-allegory, pedagogical, a revelation of the workings of history or society, satirical, or spiritually illuminating — in other words, something meaningful and, acknowledged or not, transformative. (Of course, there are life stories that are simply meant to be entertaining.) The autobiography is directed at someone else, the reader, whose real or imagined response will not only transform him but will turn back on the autobiography giving it meaning or, I suppose, rendering it meaningless, by obliterating the “storiness” of the story, the gap between the story and the life as lived, the lived life. An autobiography strives to resurrect that life, but is destined to fail, if only because, like Narcissus, seduced by his own image, the autobiographer is seduced by his or her story. To resist that seduction is to recognize the artifice of the endeavor, its inevitable deceits and elaborations — its fictionalization.

Table of Contents

I Origin Stories 1

II First Memories 11

III The Rabbit Slaughter 23

IV Home 35

V Knowing What You Do Not Know 57

VI When Did I First Ask Who I Am? 71

VII Nuit de Noël 87

VIII Ecolint 101

IX Rites of Passage, Rights of Return 119

X From Coincidence to Contingency to Fatality 133

XI The Thought Occurs 151

XII Deflections 173

XIII Performance 189

XIV Jane 211

XV Interpellation 225

XVI Is Forgiveness Possible? 235

XVII Mexico 247

XVIII Adventures 265

XIX Psychoanalysis 279

XX The Workings of Nostalgia 295

XXI Stories That Cannot Be Told 311

XXII Betrayal 325

XXIII Ulie 339

XXIV The Echoing World 341

XXV The Echoing World Echoed 353

XXVI I Shall Never Know the Ending 367

Acknowledgments 381

References 385

Customer Reviews