The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World - Part I, Chapter 1: “Some Food We Could Not Eat” Summary & Analysis

Lewis Hyde
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Summary

This first chapter discusses two primary characteristics of the gift: motion and circulation (i.e., the figure of the circle). Hyde begins by discussing the pejorative racial epithet ‘Indian giver.’ He notes that this phrase first came into circulation based on observations made by early Puritan colonists who sought to describe the strange gift-giving behavior of the Native Americans. This behavior expects reciprocation. A gift given is supposed to be a gift that is given again and again. An obligation to return and to give is contained in the initial reception of the gift. In modern capitalist societies ‘Indian giver’ has taken a broader meaning, referring to someone who is supposedly so uncouth as to ask for return and reciprocation with regard to gift-giving. It buttresses the idea of private property and in this respect Hyde...

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This section contains 1,215 words
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Buy The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World Study Guide
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