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Chronicle of the Guayaki Indians Americas South America Paraguay Pierre Clastres Zone


29th June 2013 History Books 0 Comments

In the early 1960s, the French anthropologist Pierre Clastres spent two years living among the Guayaki people of Paraguay, a tiny community of nomadic hunters whose way of life was quickly disappearing. When Clastres arrived in Paraguay, there were only 100 Guayaki left, and their culture seemed doomed by influenza and encroaching civilization. Clastres’s description of his encounters with these people is respectful, self-aware, and written with great skill. Paul Auster (author of The New York Trilogy and the movie Smoke) translated the book from French to English in the late 1970s, sent it to a publisher, and then lost track of the manuscript for 20 years. Fortunately, one of Auster’s fans stumbled upon the manuscript in a used-book store in 1996 and brought it to the author, making this publication possible.

According to Clastres, the Guayaki were mild-mannered folk who relished the taste of human flesh. There were far more men than women in the community, which seems sort of sinister. Every June, when the air was cold enough to make the bees logy, all the Guayaki groups gathered for a honey festival, which featured tickling games and many sexual adventures. In short, the Guayaki led lives very different from our own. There is something deeply satisfying about learning the details of faraway, drastically foreign lives. Clastres manages to describe these people’s daily lives and traditions without making them seem exotic or sensationalizing their story. Clastres’s quiet, detailed observations honor this vanished culture and should be of interest to anthropologists and layman alike. –Jill Marquis –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Little was known about the nomadic Guayaki Indians of eastern Paraguay until Clastres, a French ethnographer now deceased, made contact with them. He lived among them in 1963-64 and documented their history and culture. His study is extremely valuable because it documents the experiences of a group of people who no longer exist. Clastres published the French edition of this book in 1972, and it has been translated by novelist Auster, who originally translated this title in the mid-1970s. Auster’s trials and tribulations in getting it published are documented in the section entitled “Translator’s Notes” and his story alone is worth the price of the book. The photographs and illustrations greatly enhance the text and provide valuable information. Highly recommended for specialized collections on South American Indians.?John Burch, Cumberland Coll. Lib., Williamsburg, Ky.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Pierre Clastres (1934-1979) was one of the most respected political anthropologists of our time. Chronicle of the Guayaki Indians is an account of his first fieldwork in the early 1960s–an encounter with a small, unique, and now vanished Paraguayan tribe. From “Birth” to “The End,” Clastres follows the Guayakis in their everyday lives, determined to record every detail of their history, ritual, myths, and culture in order to answer the many questions prompted by his personal experiences. Now available for the first time in English in a beautiful translation by the novelist Paul Auster, Chronicle of the Guayaki Indians will alter radically not only the Western academic conventions in which other cultures are thought but also the discipline of political anthropology itself.

In the early 1960s, the French anthropologist Pierre Clastres spent two years living among the Guayaki people of Paraguay, a tiny community of nomadic hunters whose way of life was quickly disappearing. When Clastres arrived in Paraguay, there were only 100 Guayaki left, and their culture seemed doomed by influenza and encroaching civilization. Clastres’s description of his encounters with these people is respectful, self-aware, and written with great skill. Paul Auster translated the book from French to English in the late 1970s, sent it to a publisher, and then lost track of the manuscript for 20 years. Fortunately, one of Auster’s fans stumbled upon the manuscript in a used-book store in 1996 and brought it to the author, making this publication possible.

According to Clastres, the Guayaki were mild-mannered folk who relished the taste of human flesh. There were far more men than women in the community, which seems sort of sinister. Every June, when the air was cold enough to make the bees logy, all the Guayaki groups gathered for a honey festival, which featured tickling games and many sexual adventures. In short, the Guayaki led lives very different from our own. There is something deeply satisfying about learning the details of faraway, drastically foreign lives. Clastres manages to describe these people’s daily lives and traditions without making them seem exotic or sensationalizing their story. Clastres’s quiet, detailed observations honor this vanished culture and should be of interest to anthropologists and layman alike. –Jill Marquis –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Chronicle of the Guayaki Indians

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