Scan down a list of essential works in any introduction to anthropology course and you are likely to see Marcel Mauss’ masterpiece, The Gift. With this new translation, Mauss’ classic essay is returned to its original context, published alongside the works that framed its first publication in the 1923–24 issue of L’Année Sociologique. With a critical foreword by Bill Maurer and a new introduction by translator Jane Guyer, this expanded edition is certain to become the standard English version of the essay—a gift that keeps on giving.
Included alongside the “Essay on the Gift” are Mauss’ memorial accounts of the work of Émile Durkheim and his colleagues who were lost during World War I, as well as his scholarly reviews of influential contemporaries such as Franz Boas, J. G. Frazer, Bronislaw Malinowski, and others. Read in the context of these additional pieces, the “Essay on the Gift” is revealed as a complementary whole, a gesture of both personal and political generosity: Mauss’ honor for his fallen colleagues; his aspiration for modern society’s recuperation of the gift as a mode of repair; and his own careful, yet critical, reading of his intellectual milieu. The result sets the scene for a whole new generation of readers to study this essay alongside pieces that exhibit the erudition, political commitment, and generous collegial exchange that first nourished the essay into life.
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