Tristes Tropiques begins with the line 'I hate travelling and explorers', yet during his life Claude Levi-Strauss travelled from wartime France to the Amazon basin and the dense upland jungles of Brazil, where he found 'human society reduced to its most basic expression'. His account of the people he encountered changed the field of anthropology, transforming Western notions of 'primitive' man. Tristes Tropiques is a major work of art as well as of scholarship. It is a memoir of exquisite beauty and a masterpiece of travel writing: funny, discursive, movingly detailing personal and cultural loss, and brilliantly connecting disparate fields of thought. Few books have had as powerful and broad an impact.
Claude Levi-Strauss was born in 1908 and died in 2009. He is the founder of modern anthropology and taught in France, Brazil and at the New School in New York before being appointed to the Chair of Social Anthropology at the College de France in 1959. His other boks include Structural Anthropology, Totemism and The Savage Mind.