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What the volume doesn’t do, perhaps surprisingly, is reprint some of the more famous tomes of that career — absent is that originary moment represented by the discipline-warping dissertation; the polemical essays that comprised Structural Anthropology; the UNESCO-sponsored Race and History; and the symphonic four-volume series of works on mythology published between 1964 and 1971, The Raw and the Cooked, From Honey to Ashes, The Origin of Table Manners, and The Naked Man.
Why the absences? The editor of the Pléiade Lévi-Strauss, Vincent Debaene, an assistant professor in the French department at Columbia, argues in his preface that the selections represent a double refusal: It avoided the production of a “too technical volume” but moreover avoided becoming another mythological reproduction of a “manifesto of structuralism.” A selection of texts that would have played into the latter tendency, Debaene wrote me by e-mail, “would have reduced Lévi-Strauss’s structuralism to an avant-garde which has now been passed over, and the volume would have just gathered the memories of a moment of ‘French Theory’ or of European thought –– and the native Indians would have just become what they were in 18th-century thought: some remote shadows, a conceptual tool to create a relativistic stance, a fiction which would have helped us to think of ourselves and of our present.”