Claude Levi-Strauss, the `father of modern anthropology' and author of the classic Tristes tropiques, was one of the most influential intellectuals of the second half of the twentieth century. Dislodging Sartre, Camus and de Beauvoir from the pinnacle of French intellectual life in the 1950s, he brought about a sea change in Western thought and inspired a generation of thinkers and writers, including Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes and Jacques Lacan with his structuralist theories.
Levi-Strauss's bohemian childhood and later studies of the emerging discipline of anthropology in the field and the university led him to mix with intellectuals, artists and poets from all over Europe. Tracing the evolution of his ideas through interviews with the man himself, research into his archives and conversations with contemporary anthropologists, Wilcken explores and explains Levi-Strauss's theories, revealing an artiste manque who infused his academic writing with an artistic and poetic sensibility.
Patrick Wilcken grew up in Sydney and studied at Goldsmiths College and the Institute of Latin American Studies in London. He has contributed Brazil-related reviews and features to the Times Literary Supplement and the Guardian. He is the author of Empire Adrift: He has spent lengthy periods in Rio de Janeiro and now lives in London with his wife and child.