Re: Is Levi-Strauss essential? was It still works? Avoid it anyway.

Dan Goodman (
17 Jan 1997 05:47:29 GMT

In article <>,
Toby Cockcroft <> wrote:
>>In article <5bk1g5$>, says...
>>>And -- what anthropological literature IS useful to science fiction and
>>>fantasy writers?
>Perhaps it has been mentioned before but one individual that you might want
>tyo read is Ursula K. LeGuin both an eminent anthropologist (from a long
>line of anthropologists all the way back to Boas: but I'lll let you find
>out how for yourself) and an eminent fictional novelist. LeGuin manages to
>combine the best aspects of anthropology and fiction in her novels, _The
>Right Hand of Darkness_ immediately comes to mind. If you want what is
>perhaps the best example then this is it.

I know that Le Guin's parents were anthropologists, but I didn't know that
she'd ever trained or worked in that field.

As for the recommendation -- what I'm asking about is anthropological
literature useful to science fiction and fantasy writers. That is --
nonfiction, and from outside the sf field.
>As far as L-S is concerned the reader must not forget how L-S uses literary
>tropes and styles to convince the reader of both his authority and the
>beleivability of the cultures that he is describing, and here I am
>referring specifically to _Tristes Tropique_.
>Perhaps anthropological knowledge can supply the fiction writer with a
>model of how society works but it is the skills of the fictional writer
>which gives life to that society to the readers. Anthropological knowledge
>is no enough, one must also be a writer.
True. But anthropological knowledge can at least keep the writer from
doing the equivalent of having the heroine die of thirst in the desert
which surrounds New Orleans. (The ending of the opera Manon Lescaux.)

Dan Goodman
Whatever you wish for me, may you have twice as much.