Influential though they may have been in recent years, especially since their translation in 1960, Mauss tells us that Hertz's studies on death and on right and left were only supplements - 'prologue' and 'appendix' respectively - to the great work that really interested him (see Mauss 1925: 24; 1994: 51ff.). Had he lived, this would have been his doctoral thesis, supervised by Durkheim (Nandan 1977: Ii n. 20). In general, it was to have concerned the theme of impurity in all its forms, of which the impurity of death and the impurity of the left hand were only aspects (1994: 52). More generally still, Hertz was concerned with the 'dark side of humanity: crime and sin, punishment and pardon' (Mauss 1925: 24), the least studied and the most difficult to research. Compared with this, the studies on the cult of St Besse and the myth of Athena and the collections of folktales were no more than 'pastimes' (ibid.; see also pp. 10-11,25-6).1