Full Circles Overlapping Lives: Culture and Generation in Transition

Front Cover
Random House, 2000 - Social Science - 262 pages
1 Review
In Full Circles, Overlapping Lives, bestselling author and cultural anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson looks with an inspired eye at how our very concepts of personal identity and shared fulfillment are changing. Living longer than ever before, alongside increasingly diverse neighbors, we are obliged to rethink our lives at every stage of the life cycle, to question expected roles and relationships, and to discover new possibilities. This is a book rich with the telling observations and subtle wisdom that the author has made her trademarks. Eloquent and persuasive, Bateson not only explores the changing stages of our lives but offers a profound insight: We live with strangers. We meet strangers not only on the street but at the breakfast table and in the mirror. We are constantly surprised or mystified by those closest to us--children, parents, and spouses--as they respond to new situations. Rather than seeing this as necessarily distressing, however, the author shows how even the home can be a training ground for an individual's ability to understand the differences of race, class, and generation: how a family can be enjoyed as a microcosm of the multiplicity around us, rather than as a refuge from the world's diversity.
Bateson explores her groundbreaking theme by weaving together the words of a group of remarkable women whom she taught at Spelman College, drawing on her teaching at George Mason University as well. The lives of these women--young, old, black, white, married, single--provide an exploration of what it means to live in America today and offer a prism through which we all can glimpse facets of ourselves. As in Bateson's bestseller "Composing a Life," the stories tell of individual discovery and creative improvisation. Along the way, these women's choices and affirmations challenge many familiar concepts: What is the difference between a child and an adult? What is fidelity? How do illness and death enrich life? Bateson juxtaposes the discussions of their lives and their questions of identity, expectation, and fulfillment with life histories from around the world to allow for new and greater understanding.
Learning from the women she has taught, Bateson has come to believe that listening across generations is key to living creatively and to discovering the strange in the familiar and the familiar in the strange. Her message will resonate with anyone seeking to learn from loved ones, to share more with friends, or simply to see his or her own lifetime with new wisdom and acceptance.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

Full circles, overlapping lives: culture and generation in transition

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Bateson, a prominent anthropologist and author (Composing a Life), continues to observe and ponder changes in the life cycle. In this book, which evolved from a life-history course she taught at ... Read full review


Overlapping Lives
Once Around
YouthDancing the Limbo

10 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2000)

Mary Catherine Bateson is the Clarence J. Robinson Professor in Anthropology and English at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, and divides her time between Virginia and the Monadnock region of New Hampshire. She has written and co-authored eight books, including Composing a Life and With a Daughter's Eye: A Memoir of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson (named one of the best books of 1984 by The New York Times), and is president of the Institute for Intercultural Studies in New York City.

Bibliographic information