French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss died over the weekend at the age of 100. Born into a Jewish family in Brussels in 1908, Lévi-Strauss studied law and philosophy in Paris before taking a position as a visiting professor in Brazil for four years. Unable to live in Paris because of the Nazi occupation, the thinker took a position at the New School in New York City, returning to Paris and becoming a professor of social anthropology at the College de France after the war. Lévi-Strauss's structuralist approach to anthropology attempted to transfer the linguistic concepts of Ferdinand de Saussure to his chosen discipline, finding the underlying structures that govern and help define human relationships and culture. His work on myths, which he held were determined by oppositions—life and death, raw and cooked, nature and culture—was deeply influential to a generation of French scholars. Tristes Tropiques, likely his best-known work in the English-speaking world, was widely considered his masterpiece; Susan Sontag called it "one of the great books of our century."
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