In Abyssinian poetry, the "wax" is the obvious meaning, the "gold" is the hidden meaning. In Wax and Gold, Donald N. Levine explores mid-to-late-twentieth-century Ethiopian society on the same two levels, using modern sociology and psychology to seek answers to the following questions: What is the nature of the traditional culture of the dominant ethnic group, the Amhara, and what are its enduring values? What aspects of modern culture interest this society and by what means has it sought to institutionalize them? How has tradition both facilitated and hampered Ethiopian efforts to modernize? Enriched by the use of Ethiopian literature and by Levine's deep knowledge of and affection for the society of which he writes, Wax and Gold is both a scholarly and a personal work.
Donald N. Levine is the Peter B. Ritzma Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago, where he served as dean of the College from 1982 to 1987. He is the author of several books, including Greater Ethiopia: The Evolution of a Multiethnic Society and Powers of the Mind: The Reinvention of Liberal Learning in America, both published by the University of Chicago Press.