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SHORTER NOTICES 103 detail, is in essence one of the most important issues, if not the basic problem of Canadian existence. RICHARD M. SAUNDERS Male and Female: A Study of the Sexes in a Changing World. By MARGARET MEAD. New York: Morrow [Toronto: Collins]. 1949. Pp. xii, 477. ($5.50) This book, it is presumed, will be read by two sorts of people, the specialists who know Dr. Margaret Mead's skill as an observer and interpreter of anthropological data, and the lay readers who may wish for any fresh light that the scientific commentator bas to throw upon the relations between men and women in contemporary Western society. For, although Parts II and III of the work, with Appendix I, are occupied with a careful description of biological and social facts as observed among seven South Pacific groups, the author states plainly in Part I that her purpose in setting forth these South Sea cultures in detail is to make us, the men and women of the American continent, look at ourselves with fresh understanding. Illumination will come, presumably, from the argument outlined in Part IV, which is entitled "The Two Sexes in Modern America." Whether converted to the naturalism of this argument or not, the reader will learn from the book. He will also note the sensitive awareness revealed in Appendix II and be interested by the autobiographical fragment in Appendix III. The volume is furnished with a full bibliography and excellent indexes. Following his intent and experienced guide through Parts II and III of Male and Female, the reader is given revealing vignettes and explanations of customs and incidents in the life of the Samoans, the Lake-dwelling Tchambuli and others. The views he is given all point to one conclusion, the immense variation that obtains in human custom and attitude as regards sex and reproduction. The inference is that a possible change or changes in the American attitudes and customs of today with regard to sex and reproduction will inevitably increase the satisfaction and well-being of numerous individuals like ourselves. So when in Part IV concrete matters such as the contemporary uncertainty of youth, the boredom of middle age, the increase in women's professional activity and in divorce are discussed , the reader is invited to discard conventional notions and to think afresh. 104 THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY It is here that the book may prove less satisfactory to some than to others. The anthropologist is helpful in reminding us of our origins and of the physical self and its needs. He or she criticizes with justice unreal attitudes with regard to the basic physical characteristics of man. Society should be made strongly aware of any split between social convention and individual practice. However, where the striking feature of current practice is unawareness of the standards of civilization, and where contemporary education tends to leave out any inculcation of restraint and other-regarding values, it would appear dangerous to concentrate upon origins without defining ends. Physical and emotional satisfactions are good, but humane good is a more complex thing than a sum of satisfactions. The implication that the one basic good is material and that othcr values are extrinsic and secondary fails to convince. Thus, while the wholeness in human life which Dr. Mead so strongly and so rightly desiderates will be better understood by those who read her book, human wholeness would seem far from men's grasp as long as their view of good remains naturalistic. M. M. KIRKWOOD Ritual Magic. By E. M. BUTLER. Cambridge: at the University Press [Toronto: Macmillan Co. of Canada]. 1949. Pp. x, 329. ($4.25) Within the last fifty years the careful studies of field anthropologists in many parts of the world have described for the first time the place of magic in the lives of diverse peoples. Sometimes akin to science, sometimes to religion, magical practices, having the common clement of the control of powers or beings, play a prominent part in the lives of most of the so-called primitive peoples of today or yesterday . In Europe, however, the "accidents of history" drove much of magic into concealment; it became a black art, associated...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 103-104
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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