Claude Lévi-Strauss at 100

Levi1_190 In the NYT:

Claude Lévi-Strauss, who altered the way Westerners look at other civilizations, turned 100 on Friday, and France celebrated with films, lectures and free admission to the museum he inspired, the Musée du Quai Branly.

Mr. Lévi-Strauss is cherished in France, and is an additional reminder of the nation’s cultural significance in the year when another Frenchman, Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Mr. Lévi-Strauss shot to prominence early, but with his 1955 book, “Tristes Tropiques,” a sort of anthropological meditation based on his travels in Brazil and elsewhere in the 1930s, he became a national treasure of a specially French kind. The jury of the Prix Goncourt, France’s most famous literary award, said that it would have given the prize to “Tristes Tropiques” had it been fiction.

Mr. Lévi-Strauss, a Brussels-born and Paris-bred Jew, fled France after its capitulation to the Nazis in 1940. He spent the next eight years based in the United States, where he taught at the New School for Social Research in New York and was influenced by noted anthropologists like Franz Boas, who taught at Columbia.

On Friday, the culmination of several days of celebration, there were no false notes. At the Quai Branly, 100 scholars and writers read from or lectured on the work of Mr. Lévi-Strauss, while documentaries about him were screened, and guided visits were provided to the collections, which include some of his own favorite artifacts.

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