wrangham & jelinek 07-01-2010

(by richard wrangham). wonderful. an utterly convincing exposition of a brilliantly simple idea which seems somehow obvious in retrospect, about the central role of cooking in human development, dictating everything from brain size and bowel length to the domestication of the dog and our love of the banana. rather like jared diamond's thesis, in guns, germs and steel, that simple geography was central in shaping the nature, spread and inequalities of cultural and technological progress. i've always been fascinated by human pre-history (i vividly remember wanting to be a paleoanthropologist when i grew up) and both books fundamentally changed the way i thought about the subject.

possibly a masterpiece, but let down by a laughably inept translation. if they'd had the druthers they'd have raped them...? he condoles with them...? genitals and wares both used in the singular? i'm off to michael hulse's translation of jelinek's wonderful wonderful life so i can fully appreciate the self-hatred,  the abusive sex,  the pointless violence and the open sore of Austria's unresolved nazi past without bad english getting in the way.