Tribute by Frédéric Mitterrand, Minister of Culture and Communication, to Claude Lévi-Strauss
With Claude Lévi-Strauss, he is one of the last giants of the epic
who left us. His work as a scout and pioneer
has a decisive influence on the whole of the humanities and
world and, more importantly, has revolutionized our vision of
Claude Lévi-Strauss was first a great scientist, a meticulous
ethnologist on the ground, especially in the Amazon, an inventor who forged
structural anthropology and designed a new approach to myths. But
on this encyclopaedic knowledge he had founded a humanism for everyone.
With Tristes Tropiques (1955), the story of his expeditions carried by a style
authentic writer and an acute and vibrant awareness of complexity
For the first time to a wide audience, he has given the
fascinating world of the first peoples.
As heir to Montaigne and the Enlightenment, Lévi-Strauss carried the
tradition of the philosophical journey, this school of the
from openness to the Other, and developed, like a new Rousseau, a
worrying and generous questioning of the value of our civilization.
This master of a new humanism knew how to root his work in
institutions such as the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes where he was
Director of Studies, the Social Anthropology Laboratory of the
France, a prestigious establishment in which he could transmit his
passion and its method for almost a quarter of a century, between 1959 and
1982, within the L'Homme, French journal of anthropology which he founded
with Benveniste in 1961 and at the French Academy where he was the first
Race and history, Wild Thought, Cru and Cuit, the imposing tetralogy
or, more recently, its aesthetic essays: it is not
a work by Claude Lévi-Strauss that did not mark a moment of the
twentieth century consciousness.
Claude Lévi-Strauss did even better than we bequeath the treasures of his
erudition, he taught us a new grammar of gaze and taught us
learned to “look, listen, see” differently.
This more than centenary sage will remain a reference and a model for
each of us.