The Gift Lewis Hyde Analysis

1938 Words8 Pages
I] Introduction

Lewis Hyde’s “The Gift”, subtitled “Creativity and the Artist in the modern world” is a deliberation – thesis, if you will - on the nature of the creative process; likening it to the principles of a gift economy and thereby highlighting the uneasy existence of creative labour and art in a modern world ruled by the ethos of capitalism.
Published in 1983, Hyde’s work is heavily influenced by that of the acclaimed sociologist Marcell Mauss according to whom gift economies are marked by circulation and connectivity: goods have value only insofar as they are treated as gifts, and gifts can remain gifts only if they are continually given away. This results in a kind of engine of community cohesion, in which objects create social,
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This book is an exploration of the tension created by its’ dual existence i.e. the disconnect between the artist’s inspiration and the potential of his/her work at the marketplace.
A hard to summarize book (by the author’s own account), it is divided into two parts. In Part 1 Hyde builds upon the theory of gift exchange through the use of mythologies, fables and anthropogenic examples and in Part 2 he applies this theory to art, specifically upon the poetry of Walt Whitman and the life and guiding philosophy of poet and critic Ezra Pound.
The central premise of this essay is to gauge the difference between these two economies through a political economic lens and analyse the degree of reconciliation that can occur between both, if reconciliation is at all possible.
To support the economic rhetoric in this essay, “The Gift” is supplemented by J S Mill’s “Principles of Political Economy”, a treatise on macroeconomics published in 1848. Exemplified by the grandiose language characteristic of Mill, the volume comprises of five books: The Book of Production, Distribution, Exchange, Influence of the progress of society on production and distribution and Influence of Government.

II] The philosophical framework of “The
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The initial gift is the one bestowed upon him as his talent – his potential and desire to create art.
2. The second gift is him possessing the wherewithal and the ability to actually indulge in the creation process of the art.
3. The final gift is the fashioned work, for the world to see.
Therefore a work of art is a fruit of the creative spirit. The reproduced gift has the power to reproduce the same gifted state within the audience which is how the inner gift is passed along. And, while being personal in nature, its dignity is increased only when it is being shared with, communicated to a larger and larger audience – not unlike a gift within the community. It belongs to the Zoë life where art is the symbolization of the expression and speech by which the larger self communicates and articulates itself.
III] Analyzing the value of artistic production in the political economy
Using the philosophical framework of “The Gift” as our foundation, we will now look at the basic premise of the artist’s dilemma through a political economy
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