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By Claude Levi-Strauss

"A magical masterpiece."—Robert Ardrey. A chronicle of the author's look for a civilization "reduced to its most elementary expression."

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There has been a time whilst traveling introduced the tourist into touch with civilizations that have been appreciably diverse from his personal and inspired him within the first position via their strangeness. over the last few centuries such circumstances became more and more infrequent. no matter if he's vacationing India or the US, the fashionable visitor is much less shocked than he cares to confess. In picking out his targets and itineraries, he feels specially unfastened to pick a selected date of eu penetration, or a selected price of inflow of mechanization, instead of one other. the hunt for the unique boils all the way down to the amassing of previous or later stages of a well-known trend of improvement. The tourist is like an antiquary obliged, through the lack of fabric, to desert his number of Negro artwork and to fall again on bargaining for old fashioned items of junk as he excursions the flea markets of the inhabited international. those transformations are already discernible within the center of any city. simply as each one plant flora in its specific season, so every one district bears the mark of the centuries which observed its progress, its greatest improvement and its decline. within the trend of city plants, there are coincidences and chronological sequences. In Paris, the world of the Marais reached its zenith within the 17th century, yet is now decrepit; the ninth arrondissement, a later-flowering species, attained its height through the moment Empire, yet its now shabby structures are this present day occupied by way of a humble number of fauna who, like bugs, locate in them an appropriate environment for his or her modest types of job. The seventeenth arrondissement is still frozen in its defunct splendour, like an enormous chrysanthemum nobly retaining its withered head erect lengthy after its distributed span of lifestyles. no longer in the past the sixteenth arrondissement was once resplendent, yet now its brilliant blooms are obscured by way of the sprouting of place of work blocks and residence constructions that are steadily making it indistinguishable from the Parisian banlieue. after we evaluate cities that are geographically and traditionally distant from one another, those cyclical variations are advanced by means of discrepancies in premiums of swap. once one strikes clear of the centre of Rio, which has a said turn-of-the-century glance, one unearths quiet streets, and lengthy boulevards planted with hands, mangoes and trimmed purple-wood timber and bordered by way of antiquated villas status of their personal grounds. They jogged my memory (like the residential districts of Calcutta that i used to be to determine later) of great or Biarritz less than Napoleon III. The tropics are much less unique than outdated. it isn't a lot their crops which testifies to their id as minor architectural information, and the recommendation of a life-style which provides one the influence that, rather than masking titanic distances, one has moved again imperceptibly in time. Rio de Janeiro isn't outfitted like every traditional city. It was once developed initially alongside the belt of flat, marshy land bordering the bay after which labored its means in among the steep hills which enclose the bay on either side, like palms bent in a good, ill-fitting glove.

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