Chronicle of the Guayaki Indians is Pierre Clastres’s account of his 1963–64 encounter with this small Paraguayan tribe, a precise and detailed recording of the history, ritual, myths, and culture of this remarkably unique, and now vanished, people. “Determined not to let the slightest detail” escape him or to leave unanswered the many questions prompted by his personal experiences, Clastres follows the Guayaki in their everyday lives.
Now available for the first time in a stunningly beautiful translation by Paul Auster, Chronicle of the Guayaki Indians radically alters not only the Western academic conventions in which other cultures are thought but also the discipline of political anthropology itself.
“It is, I believe, nearly impossible not to love this book. The care and patience with which it is written, the incisiveness of its observations, its humor, its intellectual rigor, its compassion — all these qualities reinforce one another to make it an important, memorable work…. It is the true story of a man’s experiences, and it asks nothing but the most essential questions: how is information communicated to an anthropologist, what kinds of transactions take place between one culture and another, under what circumstances might secrets be kept? In delineating this unknown civilization for us, Clastres writes with the cunning of a good novelist.” — Paul Auster
“Ethnographer Clastres’s chronicle is genuine, flowing, compassionate and lacking professional jargon. And Auster’s translation makes every sentence a flawless work of the heart.” — Publishers Weekly
Chronicle of the Guayaki Indians was awarded the Alta Prize in nonfiction by the American Literary Translators Association.