Thursday, April 14, 2011

Robin Fox

Robin Fox, anthropologist, poet, and essayist, is University Professor of Social Theory at Rutgers University and author of Kinship and Marriage: An Anthropological Perspective and The Red Lamp of Incest: An Enquiry into the Origins of Mind and Society.

His new book is The Tribal Imagination: Civilization and the Savage Mind.

Last month I asked Fox what he was reading. His reply:
It is always delightful to discover a new author (like a new composer – I found Alberto Ginestera for example) and I lighted on Barbara Kingsolver through a friend who loaned me her The Lacuna when I was sick. I followed up with The Poisonwood Bible – a sustained piece of virtuoso writing about Africa in three voices. I did Pigs in Clover and am now on Animal Dreams: about the Southwest, which I love, including Pueblo Indians of the tribes I studied. She is an unbelievably good writer with humor and metaphor and a gripping story. You don’t have to be a liberal activist to enjoy her, but if you are it will be love at first sight.

Also, from the library I picked up Somerset Maugham’s Kipling’s Best a selection of the master’s short stories with an excellent introduction by Maugham, himself a grand master of the genre. I wanted to read the original of “The Man Who Would Be King” to see how much the terrific movie with Michael Caine and Sean Connery departed from the original –not much was the answer, down to the key element of Freemasonry in the plot. “Billy Fish” was not a Gurkha it seems, but they needed him in the movie so that they could all talk English and not sign language to the natives of Kafiristan. But I had forgotten what a master of the genre Kipling was. Close to Robert Louis Stevenson and in his depictions of British India incomparable.

Finally I read two books together, Daphne Pearson’s Edward de Vere (1550-1604): The Crisis and Consequences of Wardship (2005), and Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens, Arden Edition. Why, you might well ask. Well, de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, is a leading candidate for the “real” author of the Shakespeare works, and the parallels between his life and that of the characters in the plays is often startling. Timon of Athens resonates in many ways including reckless land sales, dealings with creditors and stewards, and desertion by friends etc. with Oxford’s own life. Intriguing. I’ll probably write something about it.
Learn more about The Tribal Imagination and its author at Robin Fox's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Tribal Imagination.

--Marshal Zeringue