Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? When the apprentices of a Paris printing shop in the s held a series of mock trials and then hanged all the cats they could lay their hands on, why did they find it so hilariously funny that they choked with laughter when they reenacted it in pantomime some twenty times? Why in the eighteenth-century version of Little Red Riding Hood did the wolf eat the child at the end? What did the anonymous townsman of Montpelier have in mind when he kept an exhaustive dossier on all the activities of his native city?
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Would you like to tell us about a lower price? If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support? When the apprentices of a Paris printing shop in the s held a series of mock trials and then hanged all the cats they could lay their hands on, why did they find it so hilariously funny that they choked with laughter when they reenacted it in pantomime some twenty times?
Why in the eighteenth-century version of Little Red Riding Hood did the wolf eat the child at the end? What did the anonymous townsman of Montpelier have in mind when he kept an exhaustive dossier on all the activities of his native city? These are some of the provocative questions Robert Darnton answers in this classic work of European history in what we like to call The Age of Enlightenment.
Read more Read less. Review "Robert Darnton has the inquisitiveness of an investigative reporter, the thoroughness of a rigorous scholar, and the sensitivity of a novelist. The job description for the historian is simple; he must read well. Darnton does. He will read anything, take it seriously, and, applying a fertile imagination, write beautifully about what he has learned. Robert Darnton is Carl H. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. No customer reviews.
How does Amazon calculate star ratings? The machine learned model takes into account factors including: the age of a review, helpfulness votes by customers and whether the reviews are from verified purchases. Review this product Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review. Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon. Verified Purchase. Darnton is a distinguished historian and a MacArthur prize fellow.
There are two main problems with this which Darnton acknowledges p. By definition this is a set of related but ultimately disparate essays. The book is fascinating but each reader will find some chapters far more interesting than others. I preferred the chapters on fairy tales, writers and the cat massacre, with the chapter on Rousseau coming in fourth.
In general this is a lively book, filled with interesting information. While some would descend into opaque, highly theoretical prose to discuss this sort of material, Darnton does not. His clarity and straightforwardness will, as a result, endear him to readers. Highly recommended. The author appears to set out to focus on moving toward a greater understanding of French cultural history through several essays.
He does so by first examining folklore and fairy tales, and then moves toward what seems like a very odd event, a ritual cat massacre, which began with oppressed workers. As for the latter, the subject of cat massacre, the very odd title of the book, does seem abhorrent, cruel, and inscrutable to us today, but the author instructs us that when we, as students of history come across a cultural behavior that stands out in its ability to be incomprehensible, and strange to us, we have probably stumbled on something that shows us something significant about the culture.
He cautions us to pay attention if this happens because it can be rewarding if we will take the time to inspect and consider it, as a challenge to our understanding. Through further essays, he then discusses the rise of the bourgeois, and also discusses some writing in the Enlightenment, and finally discusses how readers responded to an unusual romance in love letters, written by Rousseau, and how the people of that time period related to reading, and how they approached and related to their books.
They apparently did so a lot differently than we do today, and I found this information to be inspiring and fascinating. This book really was engaging, all through. I enjoyed the way the author put it all together, and posed questions and challenges to the reader. I enjoyed this book a lot, and felt it added to my understanding of history, and also French culture. In the introduction, the author invites us to "enjoy the journey," and I must say that to my surprise, I really did enjoy it, all the way through.
I recommend this book to lovers of history, and of French culture, and of learning, in general. Going into this book, I was expecting to be told one story, however that is very much not the case. While in fact, you are being told the overall story of French life in the 18th century, it encompasses many small seemingly unrelated details about a wide variety of classes, occupations, locations and economic statues.
The author, Robert Darnton, clearly has written this as a way to prove to people that learning about history in innovative, detail-oriented ways can be just as beneficiary than the classic government, big idea technique often taught in schools and in textbooks.
I feel the same amount of content is discussed in this storytelling approach as would be in a flat textbook style writing on the same region and same time period. This is a success on Darnton's part, and helps intrigue the reader as the twists of each chapter-essay continues.
I do recommend this book to those curious for insightful bits of random facts and knowledge that can then be pieced together to draw important conclusions regarding the historical significance of France as a country in the Age of Enlightenment.
However, I warn against it if you are looking for structural, highly political and extremely credible information, for that is not the intentions of the book to begin with. As for colorful recollections of the average people all the way up the social scale, this book is a clear winner. The objectives one desires to get out of their knowledge of early modern France will all be important things to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to read this book.
If you're looking for a specific historical context of French provincial life, this book will give you just that, along with allowing you to take the information given and run with it in the interpretation of your choosing, something Darnton intends for his readers.
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The great cat massacre and other episodes in French cultural history
The book containing this account, The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History , has become one of Darnton's most popular writings; it has been published in eighteen languages. Darnton describes how, as the apprentices suffered hard conditions, they came to resent the favours which their masters gave to their cats , and contrived to deal with the nuisance cats by slaughtering them so as to distress their masters. Darnton interprets this as an early form of workers' protest. The cats were a favourite of the printer's wife and were fed much better than the apprentices, who were in turn served 'catfood' rotting meat scraps. Aside from this, they were mistreated, beaten and exposed to cold and horrible weather. One of the apprentices imitated a cat by screaming like one for several nights, making the printer and his wife despair. Finally, the printer ordered the cats rounded up and dispatched.
The Great Cat Massacre
The Great Cat Massacre: And Other Episodes in French Cultural History