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The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property by Lewis Hyde

When I'm asked which pieces I remember most vividly from twenty years of reading this magazine, the excerpts from this book that CoEvolution Quarterly published in 1982 are near the top. Hyde weaves poetry, anthropology, fairy tales, and economics into a multi-layered evocation of psychological, spiritual, and communal meanings of gift-giving and gift-receiving. His is the best exposition of "gift" as (1) something offered to another person without compensation, and (2) capacity, talent. Both sorts of gifts, he says, must always move. When clutched or treated as commodities, they stagnate, turn rotten, become dangerous beasts. So, too, I suspect, with other "gifts": making money, or swaying opinion, or motivating masses of people.

 

ISBN: 0099273225

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