How The Creative Spirit Transforms The World
By now a modern classic, The Gift is a brilliantly orchestrated defense of the value of creativity and of its importance in a culture increasingly governed by money and overrun with commodities. Widely available again after its original 1983 publication, this book is even more necessary today than when it first appeared. An illuminating and transformative book, and completely original in its view of the world, The Gift is cherished by artists, writers, musicians, and thinkers. It is in itself a gift to all who discover the classic wisdom found in its pages.
The Vintage third edition (September 2019) contains a forword by Margaret Atwood and minor corrections to the original text.
Praise & Reviews
“The Gift is a book that reminds us of our cultural gifts and our responsibilities to them, and does so with an eloquence and style that enacts the very art-making it describes. A manifesto of sorts for anyone who makes art, cares for it, and understands that our most precious possessions are not for sale.”
“Few books are such life-changers as The Gift: epiphany, in sculpted prose.”
“It is clear that Lewis Hyde is one of the finest essayists of his generation. His subject is the old gift-giving cultures and their relation to the colder commodity societies. This book explains many things about gifts, and their relation to art and community. It is well-documented, brave and startling.”
“The Gift actually deserves the hyperbolic praise that in most blurbs is so empty. It is the sort of book that you remember where you were and even what you were wearing when you first picked it up. The sort that you hector friends about until they read it too. This is not just formulaic blurbspeak; it is the truth. No one who is invested in any kind of art, in questions of what real art does and doesn’t have to do with money, spirituality, ego, love, ugliness, sales, politics, morality, marketing, and whatever you call ‘value,’ can read The Gift and remain unchanged.”
—David Foster Wallace
“The Gift has been a source of inspiration and affirmation in my artistic practice for over twenty years. It is the best book I have read on what it means to be an artist in today’s economic world. It has shown me why we still use the word ‘gift’ to describe artistic talent, and that selflessness, not self-expression, lies at the root of all creative acts.”
“The Gift goes to the same sources as Marshall Sahlins, Stanley Diamond, Ivan Illich, and many others. It aids in the developing critique of civilization itself, and points toward sanity. Lewis Hyde has done us all a service!”
“A masterpiece…. The Gift is the best book I know of for the aspiring young, for talented but unacknowledged creators or even for those who have achieved material success and are worried that this means they’ve sold out.”—Margaret Atwood
“Absolutely interesting and original…. An exciting book for anyone interested in the place of creativity in our culture.”
“Fascinating and compelling…. Seems to light up everything it touches, including the reader’s mind.”—Theodore Solotaroff, The New Republic.
“The Gift moves beyond the worn categories of manipulation versus liberation and asceticism versus hedonism to offer and original and provocative critique of capitalist culture…. Hyde… has written a remarkable book.”
—Jackson Lears, The Nation. Read the full review (PDF)
“This long-awaited new edition of Lewis Hyde’s groundbreaking and influential study of creativity is a cause for across-the-board celebration.” — Geoff Dyer
“Exhilarating. . . . Explores its subject in a thoroughly original manner.”
—Los Angeles Times
“The Gift is fascinating on the power of art to take us beyond ourselves. . . . I would share The Gift not only with anyone grappling with the question of how to balance a creative passion with making a living, anyone interested in life and literature, but also with ‘all thinking humans’ (Lewis’s original intended audience).”
—Anita Sethi, The Guardian
“Wise [and] charming. . . . A glimpse from the realm of necessity into the realm of freedom, it is, like the best gifts, good beyond expectation.”
—The Village Voice
“One of the more extraordinary nonfiction books of the past twenty years.”
—George Myers, The Columbus Dispatch, 1998.