The Gift of Thanks

Hardcover | August 25, 2008

byMargaret Visser

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Margaret Visser is an original, one of the first writers to establish the art of narrative non-fiction in Canada. Her bestselling books, including The Rituals of Dinner and The Geometry of Love, masterfully explore the anthropology of everyday life, opening up the interconnected world that we otherwise might not see.
    In The Gift of Thanks, Visser turns her keen eye and far-ranging scholarship to the act of gratitude, embodied in the deceptively simple phrase “thank you.” Those two words become a springboard for a fascinating inquiry into all aspects of gratitude, from how and why children are taught to give thanks, to the difference between speaking the words and feeling them. She examines the ways in which being grateful is understood in different cultures and how acts of reciprocation or rejection are treated in folklore, mythology and fiction. Thankfulness, when properly understood, is a choice and a source of happiness that can be cultivated.
    In Margaret Visser’s hands, gratitude becomes a key to understanding the assumptions, hopes, preferences and fears that underlie everyday behaviour. She demonstrates that the North American habit of offering thanks to virtually anyone in almost any situation can be baffling—and even offensive—to someone with different cultural expectations. Reflecting on North American customs, she argues that our own notions of gratitude influence a wide range of traditions, such as the wrapping of gifts, the ritual of Remembrance Day ceremonies and even the exchange of compliments. With every page, The Gift of Thanks reveals a new and unexpected truth to ponder. Visser’s extraordinary insights into gratefulness will leave you both thankful and newly aware of the power of those two important words.

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From the Publisher

Margaret Visser is an original, one of the first writers to establish the art of narrative non-fiction in Canada. Her bestselling books, including The Rituals of Dinner and The Geometry of Love, masterfully explore the anthropology of everyday life, opening up the interconnected world that we otherwise might not see.    In The Gift of ...

Margaret Visser is the author of three previous books: "Much Depends on Dinner", "Rituals of Dinner", &"The Way We Are". She lives in Barcelona.

other books by Margaret Visser

Much Depends on Dinner
Much Depends on Dinner

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Beyond Fate
Beyond Fate

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The Geometry Of Love
The Geometry Of Love

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:512 pages, 9.69 × 7 × 1.58 inPublished:August 25, 2008Publisher:HarperCollins Publishers LtdLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0002007886

ISBN - 13:9780002007887

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Customer Reviews of The Gift of Thanks

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Why Do We Say Thank You Having read a few other books of from Margaret Visser, I was eager to read "The Gift of Thanks" and was once again impressed by Visser's multi-disciplinary approach to the exploration of such a common everyday ritual. The book is sociological, psychological, philological, philosophical, historical, geographical, etc... You can really appreciate how she unpacks the complexity of the many cultural and religious traditions of giving thanks as she weaves together such diverse literary works and philosophies such as Homer's Iliad, indigenous philosophies of the Maoris, Max Weber, and Immanuel Kant. The most relevant parts of Visser's insights were the intersection of this ancient ritual and modernity, how despite the heavy influences of commercialization and commodification, the social act of giving and its reciprocity continues. But also how modernity changes our perceptions and actions, at one point Visser explores the point that is often made that "I don't need gratitude, everything I want I can buy." The book is rather long at close to 400 pages, but it is a fast read and Visser's commentary about all the many sources she analyzes is very engaging. Overall, I definitely recommend this book for anyone who has ever thought more about giving thanks.
Date published: 2009-06-25