The Gift by Lewis Hyde, is a philosophical treatise on the interconnection between the ”gift” an artist’s creative spirit, a “gift” an object proffered to another and the act of “giving” a work of art.
The author looks to anthropology and folk tales, to propose the circuit model: an artist creates a physical object, shares that item with another individual who briefly enjoys the entity, then passes the relic on to another, who repeats the process, etc. The archetypal token may or may not eventually return to the primary donor. Or the initial giver may receive an alternate present.
A deeper set of discussions involves the impact of capitalism on talent. Should music, a painting or poem be given freely to all? If the artifact is sold, does consumerism taint the value of the artistry? Should the composer, the water colorist and the writer be constrained to a life of poverty?
I find this discourse intriguing because firstly, this book was given to me as a gift by dear neighbors. Secondly, I shall follow the premise of circulation by sending this tome to a family member who operates a lending library from her garage. The Gift will live in my memory, yet have a life beyond my dusty bookshelf.
And finally, I as an author, just published my first book. I have used my talent, i.e., gift, to create by an artistic means, and now am in the process of marketing my poetry volume. My solution to Hyde’s questions is to endeavor to always labor to produce worthy writing to submit to our capitalist society.
A book is a gift you can open again and again. — Garrison Keillor