Bronislaw Malinowski (1884–1942) was one of the most colorful and charismatic social scientists of the twentieth century. His contributions as a founding father of social anthropology and his complex personality earned him international notoriety and near-mythical status. This landmark book presents a vivid portrait of Malinowski’s early life, from his birth in Cracow to his departure in 1920 from the Trobriand Islands of the South Pacific. At the age of 36, he had already created the innovative fieldwork methods and techniques that would secure his intellectual legacy.
Drawing on an exceptionally rich array of primary documents, including Malinowski’s letters and unpublished diaries and manuscripts, Michael Young provides significant new information about the anthropologist’s personality, private life, and career. The author describes Malinowski’s restless life of travel, connections with intellectuals and artists, Nietzschean belief in his own destiny, and legendary fieldwork. The singular man who emerges from these pages fascinates on every level—as a volatile friend and lover, a provocative colleague, a passionate diarist, and a brilliant thinker who pioneered radical change in the field of anthropology.
“A tour de force of biographical exploration. . . . A wonderfully rich portrayal of a talented but awkward and vulnerable young man.”—Noel Malcolm, Sunday Telegraph
- Shortlisted for the 2005 James Tait Black Award.
- Nominated for the first selection stage for the 2005 British Academy Book Prize