The Gift: How the Creative Spirit Transforms the World (Canons) Paperback – 6 Dec 2012
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"A masterpiece . . . THE GIFT is the best book I know of for the aspiring young, for talented but unacknowledged creators, or even for those who have achieved material success and are worried that this means they've sold out. It gets at the core of their dilemma: how to maintain yourself alive in a world of money, when the essential part of what you do cannot be bought or sold"
"Reminds us of our cultural gifts and our responsibilities to them . . . a manifesto of sorts . . . In a climate where we know the price of everything and the value of nothing, Lewis Hyde offers us an account of those few, essential aspects of human experience that transcend commodity, or that will do so, if you let them"
"Helpful, beautiful and profound. It will change the way you look at everything" (Independent on Sunday)
"Buy several copies for yourself and the rest of your friends interested in, well, anything . . . Hyde is far more than an astute cultural critic; he's an original and important thinker. Pass it on"
"Few books are such life-changers as THE GIFT"
"Tiger balm for tired minds" (Sunday Times)
"No one who is invested in any kind of art, in questions of what real art does and doesn't have to do with money, spirituality, ego, love, ugliness, sales, politics, morality, marketing, and whatever you call 'value', can read THE GIFT and remain unchanged"
"Persuasive and fascinatingly illustrated, The Gift profits immensely from the modesty and unpretentiousness of Hyde's writing and the fascinated good nature with which he expounds his propositions" (Independent on Sunday)
"Brilliant - by the time he is done he has folded language, culture and the very habit of being human into his ken" (New Yorker)
"This wonderful, erudite and quirky book is a way of re-establishing a link with our imaginative life"
Introduced by Margaret AtwoodSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Hyde wrote this book as a relatively young man, at the beginning of his career. He was a poet himself, trying to puzzle out the tangle of making emotional and spiritual needs fit the economic needs of existence. He includes some of his own intriguing literary research, but the book does not pretend to be the final word on anything. What it is is simply a thoughtful, academically-thorough writer saying what anyone who believes in art and creativity as a way of life wishes someone would say, with authority. That there is value in what they do, and there is perhaps danger in not doing it.
However, if the times we live in now - the way we have to live and work driven by economics and mass market culture - simply suit you just fine - in that case the book will probably not speak to you at all.
Given to me by a friend (doing his history PhD. at UVA) a couple weeks ago, we recently had a conversation that went something to the effect of "yeah, it's like Hyde takes these things I've given thought to before, but pushes them about 10 steps beyond anywhere I'd have gotten without INTENSIVE research." Like all great cultural artifacts, this book does a ton of legwork to give your thoughts on giving, creativity, and the social purpose of "what we do" a huge push, and really has nudged my brain into a valuable understanding of myself.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not touting this as "self-help" or an "answer" in any way, as it poses as many questions as it does offer possible solutions or reasons for things. And I truly loathe all forms of self-help. But like a film or conversation or piece of artwork, it re-frames and problematizes issues with market economies, the struggle of a creative person in a modern (capitalist) world, and more personally, self-confidence and a faith in what you're doing.
It may help you find ways to be a better person, it may just re-arrange some puzzle pieces, and maybe you're already a savant and will have gotten already out of your life experience what Hyde offers you here, to which I'd simply say "well done." But I don't think the book is a waste of time. The first 80 or so pages are a bit direct, and drag a bit, but as painful as a historical backdrop COULD be, at least he tells a number of interesting stories and fables to keep the need for immediate gratification satiated.Read more ›
Pages 1 to 145 (out of 285, not including the afterword) is a summary of anthropological studies of gift giving in different cultures, and of examples of folk tales which have morals about reciprocity (for example the elves and the shoemaker) and sharing. Message: gift exchange has always been massively important in human culture. So far, almost nothing about the creative spirit and transforming the world.
Pages 146 to 162: 'Commerce and the creative spirit'. OK so now we're getting into it, interesting quotes from Pinter, Roethke, Snyder, Ginsberg. This 16 pages seems to be the start of the main theme, but then...
Pages 163 to 218: A biographical sketch of Whitman, focusing 'on how his nursing during the war opened him to love'.
Pqges 218 to 275: An exposition of Ezra Pound's dingbat economic theories and advocacy of facism and anti-semitism.
The relation of these chapters to the rest of the book seems to rest on the fact that both poets were not mainly attentive to the trappings of worldly success (but neither is Warren Buffet!). There is a strong feeling that he has lectured extensively on both these guys and has basically crowbarred them in. But they make up more than a third of the book.
Last ten pages: kind of a restatement of the introduction, but also a moderation: "I still believe the believe a gift can be destroyed by the marketplace. But I no longer feel the poles of this dichotomy to be so strongly opposed". Now he tells us!
The afterword, written in 2006, is a bunch of disparate stuff: open source, open access journals, Lessig-like copyright issues.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I’ve not read anything like The Gift. It masquerades as a social history of gifts and gift-giving. It reels off idiosyncratic little biographies of Walt Whitman and Ezra Pound. Read morePublished 13 months ago by a sweet machine
There are plenty of interesting ideas in this book to make it worth reading.Published 22 months ago by michael c ransley
The gift, is one of the best 'gifts' that I've ever purchased for myself. Please do read...you'll if not anything. Understand why gifting is important to most, if not all of us.Published on 30 Mar. 2014 by Miss Unique
The Gift is such a well crafted treatise on the nature of money and the belief system that it embodies. Read morePublished on 3 Dec. 2013 by I. P. Cheneour
This fascinating book on the subject of the creative gift is a must for anybody working in the arts, whatever their discipline, and for those who appreciate the arts, especially... Read morePublished on 1 Mar. 2013 by Pauline Fisk
Dull dull dull. Patronising and sanctimonious tone, dull and then dull again. Although, to be fair I only read a small part of it as life's too short!Published on 9 Feb. 2013 by Miss R H Jones
Bought the book after reading a review in a national newspaper. The book seemed well-used with pencil reference marks alongside the script.Published on 6 Jan. 2013 by Mrs Jean Ashworth
I'm enjoying this alongside novels that I'm reading.
It is a little over-anthropological if it has a fault, but this should not deter one from reading what is an indictment of... Read more
If you are as fed up a I am about hearing others crow on about their house equity, their fourth night on the champagne, their hyper increased inflated equity on their house and... Read morePublished on 2 Oct. 2012 by Vaarta