Myth and Meaning (Routledge Classics) by Claude Lévi-Strauss

By Claude Lévi-Strauss

In addresses written for a large basic viewers, one of many 20th century's such a lot renowned thinkers, Claude Lévi-Strauss, right here bargains the insights of an entire life at the the most important questions of human lifestyles.

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If you take the musical formula of theme and variations, for instance, you can only perceive it and feel it only if for each variation you keep in mind the theme which you listened to first; each variation has a flavour of its own, if unconsciously you can superimpose it on the earlier variation that you have listened to. Thus there is a kind of continuous reconstruction taking place in the mind of the listener to music or the listener to a mythical story. It’s not only a global similarity. It is exactly as if, when inventing the specific musical forms, music had only rediscovered structures which already existed on the mythical level.

That is, we have to read not only from left to right, but at the same time vertically, from top to bottom. We have to understand that each page is a totality. And it is only by treating the myth as if it were an orchestral score, written stave after stave, that we can understand it as a totality, that we can extract the meaning out of the myth. Why and how does this happen? My feeling is that it is the second aspect, the aspect of contiguity, which gives us the significant clue. As a matter of fact, it was about the time when mythical thought—I would not say vanished or disappeared—but passed to the background in western thought during the Renaissance and the seventeenth century, that the first novels began to appear instead of stories still built on the model of mythology.

It is thanks to his conquest of the sword that Siegmund also will beget a son, who will be Siegfried. Thus the recurrence of the theme shows us something never explained in the poems, that there is a kind of twin relationship between Hagen the traitor and Siegfried the hero. They are in a very close parallelism. This explains also why it will be possible that Siegfried and Hagen, or rather Siegfried first as himself and then under the disguise of Hagen, will at different moments of the story conquer Brunhilde.

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