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AN ANTHROPOLOGIST AT WORK by Ruth Benedict Kirkus Star


by Ruth Benedict & Margaret Mead

Pub Date: Feb. 9th, 1959
ISBN: 1412818508
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Known to college students the world over for her Patterns of Culture. Ruth Benedict occupied or created a singular place for herself in the history of a young human science. Margaret Mead knew her first as a student, then as a colleague and friend, and now brings to this symposium of Mrs. Benedict's professional and often personal papers a tender and perceptive regard for her quest and its precious yield. The seeking woman comes to us first in an essay on childhood days, in the journals written sporadically from 1912 to 1916, in the poems, the best of which record the anguish of a marriage which brought no child and found the partners increasingly apart. After much probing, she found affinity with Boas and Sapir, and their discipline to which she could apply her poetic perceptions, and through which she could search for as yet undiscovered country. Dr. Mead sets forth numerous essays, introductions, letters from the field to her from Mrs. Benedict, to Sapir, to Franz that reveal this "figure in transition", so sensitive to the individual aspects of cultures, to the vision of other eyes. As the early "Anne Singleton" poems gave way to maturer offerings, so the contributions to anthropology gained a sureness and scope that left a lovely mark and opened new channels to human understanding. Dr. Mead's sensibility of interpretation is further intimation of her own stature as an outstanding contributor and indication that she has taken and carried the torch with valor. Belles, letters, autobiography, the history of a formative period in anthropology are encompassed here, and will be sought out by all students of civilized life.