Publication Date: Jul 25, 2017

304 pp

Trade Paperback

List Price US $17.95
Trim Size (H x W): 5.5 x 8.25
ISBN: 978-1-59051-838-0


List Price US $30.00
Trim Size (H x W): 6 x 9
ISBN: 978-1-59051-593-8


List Price US $30.00
ISBN: 978-1-59051-594-5

A distinguished anthropologist tells his life story as a wistful novelist would, watching himself as if he were someone else

This memoir recaptures meaningful moments from the author’s life: his childhood on the grounds of a psychiatric hospital, his psychiatrist father’s early death, his years at school in Switzerland and then at Harvard in the 1960s, his love affairs, his own teaching, and his far-flung travels. Taken together, these stories have the power of a nothing-taken-for-granted vision, fighting those conventions and ideologies that deaden the creative and inquiring mind.

Excerpt from Recapitulations

I am laughing at myself—but not without irony, I hope, since I’m also assuming a platform and conscripting you, my readers, as interlocutors. It is easier to throw away a book than extract yourself from a conversation that depends on face-to-face encounters to continue. The thought is depressing. Baring narcissists like Anaïs Nin, who can’t imagine anyone not being enchanted by their story, most autobiographers and memoirists have to give their life a raison d’être that transcends it. They are looking to produce something exemplary—a moral-allegory, pedagogical, a revelation of the workings of history or society, satirical, or spiritually illuminating—in other words, something meaningful and, acknowledged or not, transformative. (Of course, there are life stories that are simply meant to be entertaining.) The autobiography is directed at someone else, the reader, whose real or imagined response will not only transform him but will turn back on the autobiography giving it meaning or, I suppose, rendering it meaningless, by obliterating the “storiness” of the story, the gap between the story and the life as lived, the lived life. An autobiography strives to resurrect that life, but is destined to fail, if only because, like Narcissus, seduced by his own image, the autobiographer is seduced by his or her story. To resist that seduction is to recognize the artifice of the endeavor, its inevitable deceits and elaborations—its fictionalization.

“A book of memories about the act of remembering.In this memoir, anthropologist [Vincent] Crapanzano…uses all the tools of his trade, approaching his memories skeptically and psychoanalytically, as a set of data where the truth is wrapped in self-protective layers. Crapanzano’s self-conscious, self-analytical style makes this a unique and interesting search for lost time.” —Kirkus

“[A]…thoughtful, intellectually engaging book that looks at how we organize our memories, understand ourselves and the world around us, and create and recreate meaning in our lives…An intriguing, perceptive memoir that encourages readers to think more deeply about their own lives.” —Book Reporter

“[An] elegant probing of identity, nostalgia, memory, and loss.” —Publishers Weekly

“[A] stylish, splendidly literary memoir.” —Times Literary Supplement

“In what he so thrillingly reveals to be the echo-chamber of autobiographical self-invention—a vertiginous terrain of memory, reflection, inescapable figuration—Vincent Crapanzano creates a uniquely compelling sequence of immediate experience and profound insight into how we each construct the story of our lives. A lifetime of anthropological as well as literary interpretation by one of our most subtle interpreters of human expression and behavior here turns upon Crapanzano himself, in the telling of his own story. In so doing, he gives us a vivid speculative adventure, part detective story, part Augustinian-Sartrean meditation, always hovering between origins and ends, the known and the unknowable.  Skeptical, alluring, wrenching, exhilarating, always riveting, Recapitulations is a tour de force—a genuinely philosophical investigation of a remarkable life, which also teaches us how to seize that freedom distilled by every profound encounter both with others, and with that paradoxical other we call the self.” —Peter Sacks, Harvard Univeristy

“With Recapitulations,  the anthropologist Vincent Crapanzano has not only written a moving,  ambitious, and compelling memoir; he has forged a new genre.  Call it   the meta-memoir. A brilliant storyteller, he asks himself—and us—what it means to tell,  to listen,  to remember, to share, to probe the imagined truths of recollection. This is a profoundly original book, and may well change the way you think about your own “recapitulations.” —Wednesday Martin, Ph.D., author of Stepmonster and Primates of Park Avenue

“Crapanzano is  a compelling narrator,  and his Recapitulations will be fascinating to anyone who has ever wondered what it’s like to be an anthropologist, or how  an anthropologist  thinks—all the more so because  of his  uniquely cosmopolitan vision of human experience and his  wry and  distinctive voice in describing his own.” —Thomas J. Csordas, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology, University of California San Diego

“This deeply candid and personal memoir opens with a question that all of us have been asking all life long: Have I learned anything?  This gem of a book asks the same question of love, of people, of places, of careers, of everything.  Profoundly human, the author, a scholar and writer, revisits his life not just to give an account of his past but to understand his blind spots and, in the process, to uncover what he’s always known but didn’t always care to say he knew.  This is me, exactly me, we say.” —André Aciman, author of Out of Egypt: A Memoir

Recapitulations is more than a fine and moving memoir. Using the fabric of his life as teacher, reader, listener, thinker, and traveler, Vincent Crapanzano has written a remarkable, wide-ranging book about anthropology and what it can tell us about all aspects of modern life, thought, and memory.” —Caroline Moorehead, author of A Train in Winter

“Crapanzano’s evocative and intense prose takes away one’s breath. Rejecting the fast—and so often false—intimacy and revelatory conventions of autobiography, he invites the reader to partake in a mode of reflection that exquisitely moves between the ironic and the uncertain, the considered and the serendipitous, the delicate and the raw. With luminous insight, Recapitulations conveys a life lived with an ethnographic sensibility so finely tuned and deeply embraced that one can’t help but feel one has been given a gift—folded in love and loss, wrapped in keen perception and the pleasures of paradox.” —Ann Laura Stoler, author of Along the Archival Grain

“Vincent Crapanzano is not only a thoughtful man who writes eloquently about his rich and adventurous life, but he is also a worldly emissary who advises us never to take for granted our own vision of the world: there is much to learn from people we do not understand and who do not understand us.” —Gay Talese, author of A Writer’s Life and other books

“Vincent Crapanzano’s astonishing memoir, Recapitulations, is the most fascinating and intelligent book I’ve read in a long time. A true marvel!” —Louis Begley, author of Memories of a Marriage

Praise for Waiting: The Whites of South Africa

“What Mr. Crapanzano has to say about the state of white South Africa, when he writes as interpreter and commentator, is so interesting, [and] so insightful into the processes of self-deception, yet without loss of human warmth.” —J.M. Coetzee, New York Times