Reviews

The Gift: How the Creative Spirit Transforms the World by Lewis Hyde

ocurtsinger's review against another edition

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3.0

This book is more than a book and more than a gift. It is a testimony to a way of living that asks the reader to be more engaged with humanity and the things (physical or emotional) we share. Like an anthropologist, Hyde follows the tradition of gift giving through ancient folktales and cultural practices and applies the lessons learned to what it means to be a modern human with something to give to society, whether that gift is talent, wealth, or insight. The existence of this book is a gift in itself, and reading it may unwrap a gift within you that you've been waiting to recognize and pass along.

gingerjane's review against another edition

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3.0

Apparently this book is amazing but I got bored while reading it. SORRY.

csparacino's review

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slow-paced
Did not finish, not my favorite read about creativity 

victoriathuyvi's review against another edition

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4.0

Very educational but very dense

richard_f's review against another edition

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5.0

Terrific ideas. Actually 3 books: one as titled, one critique & analysis of Walt Whitman and another of Ezra Pound.

femalerage69's review against another edition

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so boring bro. fuck this book i get thru ten pages and sleep. it’s good but too historical and educational for me. i tried i really did.

chairmanbernanke's review against another edition

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4.0

The sections on gifts and gift-giving are quite good. Discussions of money weren’t, and seemed not to grasp the critical quality of it.

turnipforthebooks's review against another edition

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challenging informative reflective slow-paced

3.5

nawis's review against another edition

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4.0

I expected this book to be more reflective of its subtitle: "Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World" (if you have the 25th Anniv. Ed.), but as a sociological study of the gift cycle recounted via anthropological narratives, medieval church history, myths/fables, and two case-studies devoted to Whitman and Pound, Hyde's book was a complete success.

Hyde suggests that gifts have worth in their perpetual movement and therefore exist in an economy separate from the commodity-driven market, which accounts for the value disparity between arts/pure sciences and business/finance/et al., and any commodification of gifts effectively withdraws them from the gift economy.

I found the first half of the book to be particularly interesting with respect to academic publishing and the accessibility of knowledge (esp. knowledge gained via public/gov funding). Academic pursuits operate within a gift economy similar to that of the arts community, yet most academic publishers charge exorbitant prices for access to their journals (read: commodification). In the new afterward by the author, Hyde touches on the recent open science initiative of PLoS and others, but this could also extend to the arts (e.g., free Pandora/Spotify vs physical media, e-books of public domain books vs print copies, and films uploaded to streaming video sites).

His portrait of Whitman was very compelling (the interspersed passages from Leaves of Grass were absolutely gorgeous and moved Whitman's work higher up on my reading list). The following section on Pound was slightly less successful in my opinion. Re: my critique regarding the subtitle, the first real instance of Hyde addressing "the Modern World" occurs in the conclusion, but the conclusion is quite effective overall.

If you're at all interested in the history of gift-giving and its implications for art and science (among other things), The Gift is highly affecting and will indeed change your outlook on how these two economies (gift and market) operate.

sophiafarias's review against another edition

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challenging hopeful informative inspiring reflective medium-paced

5.0