Gesture and Speech
Combines in one volume Technics and Language and Memory and Rhythms, the cornerstones of Leroi-Gourhan's comprehensive theory of human behavior and cultural development
AndrÃ© Leroi-Gourhan (1911-1986) was an anthropologist and paleontologist whose theoretical endeavors extended well beyond those realms to encompass the culture of the twentieth century and its most advanced developments. His bold and coherent revision of both analytic and archaeological methods revolutionized the study of prehistoric culture. His adoption of the structuralist method for the analysis of prehistoric art enabled a radical rethinking and clearer understanding of its nature, with resulting implications for the understanding of the art of our own times, and for a broad range of contemporary issues.Leroi-Gourhan was, for example, concerned with questions of communication, particularly the ways in which new techniques of communication reshape our understanding of language and writing. His work in this field has proved catalytic for the thinking of other major theorists, among them Jacques Derrida. Gesture and Speech combines in one volume Technics and Language and Memory and Rhythms, which are the cornerstones of Leroi-Gourhan's comprehensive theory of human behavior and cultural development. In Technics and Language, Leroi-Gourhan looks at prehistoric technology in relation to the development of cognitive and linguistic faculties, expanding on the cultural ramifications of erect posture, a short face, a free hand during locomotion, and possession of movable implements.Memory and Rhythms approaches its subject from the standpoints of sociology and aesthetics. Here Leroi-Gourhan addresses the problems of instinct and intelligence. He defines the relationship between aesthetic behavior, on the one hand, and species attitudes and the personalization of ethnic groups, on the other, and undertakes a sweeping aesthetic analysis from visceral perception to figurative art, including a discussion of the "language of forms" that makes figurative art an abstract expression of language.
In the two epoch-making books that constitute Gesture and Speech, now felicitously published together in English, Andre Leroi-Gourhan gives an overall view as a leading physical anthropologist, ethnologist and prehistorian. From the first crude stone tools of Early Man to the astonishing art in the painted caves, Lerio-Gourhan paints a dynamic and fascinating picture of Man's capacity to master techniques and symbols.
Dr. Jean Clottes, President of the International Committee for Rock Art
In demonstrating, more than a centruy ago, that the hand and brain or gesture and speech had worked together in the emergence and uninterrupted evolution of man, Andre Leroi-Gourhan drove human paleontolgy and prehistoric ethnology to methodological maturity.
The English translation, long awaited, restitutes well the fertile modernity of this vision and of its full actuality, amplified by multiple discoveries of fossils and prehistoric cultures on earth. Enligh language readers will in turn marvel at its clarity of scientific thought and in its philosophical dimensions on the origins and the destiny of man.
Dr. Denis VIALOU, Professor au Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle
If one were limited to reading only one of Leroi-Gourhan's major treatise, surely it would be Gesture and Speech, because this work is an example par excellence of why Leroi-Gourhan is among the most important voices in the human science. The volume is long overdue for non-French readers, who will at last get a sense of what they have been missing. No one has previously argued in such depth and such breadth for the evolutionary web of human technologies speech, body, and movements.
Margaret W. Conkey, Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of California