Bread of Dreams

Bread of Dreams : Food and Fantasy in Early Modern Europe

3.81 (53 ratings by Goodreads)
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Piero Camporesi is one of the most original and exciting cultural historians in Europe today. In this remarkable book he examines the imaginative world of poor and ordinary people in pre-industrial Europe, exploring their everyday preoccupations, fears and fantasies. Camporesi develops the startling claim that many people in early modern Europe lived in a state of almost permanent hallucination, drugged by their hunger or by bread adulterated with hallucinogenic herbs. The use of opiate products, administered even to children and infants, was widespread and was linked to a popular mythology in which herbalists and exorcists were important cultural figures. Through a careful reconstruction of the everyday imaginative life of peasants, beggars and the poor, Camporesi presents a vivid and disconcerting image of early modern Europe as a vast laboratory of dreams. Bread of Dreams is a rich and engaging book which provides a fresh insight into the everyday life and attitudes of people in pre-industrial Europe. Camporesi's vision is breathtaking and his work will be much discussed among social and cultural historians.
This edition includes a Preface by Roy Porter, Professor of the History of Medicine at the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 224 pages
  • 166 x 228 x 12mm | 344g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0745618367
  • 9780745618364
  • 445,126

Table of contents

Preface by Roy Porter. Introduction. 1. The 'Disease of Wretchedness'. 2. Elusive Bread. 3. Sacred and Profane Cannibalism. 4.'They Set Out into the World of the Vagabond'. 5. 'They Rotted in Their Own Dung'. 6. The World Turned Upside Down. 7. 'Famine of Living' and 'Times of Suspicion'. 8. Night-time. 9. Ritual Battles and Popular Frenzies. 10. Medicina Pauperum. . 11. 'Tightness of Purse'. 12. Collective Vertigo. 13. Hyperbolic Dreams. 14. Artificial Paradises. 15. Poppyseed Bread. 16. The 'Fickle and Verminous Colony'. 17. Putrid Worms and Vile Snails. 18. A City of Mummies. 19. The Triumph of Poverty. Notes. Index.
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Review quote

"A remarkable and exciting recovery of an earlier cosmology elaborated around bread and body.' Nature "Stimulating and fun to read." The Historian "This is a serious book which makes the body in early modern Europe at the same time more comprehensible and still more strange." Social History of Medicine "Piero Camporesi confronts us here with a baroque panorama of jarring variations, lurid juxtapositions, and vertiginous shifts in setting and scale ... Camporesi insists on being the dramaturge and devil's advocate of an alternative history." Speculum "In Camporesi's breathtaking vision, covering several centuries of early modern peasant society, and focusing chiefly but not exclusively on Italy, real social history and l'histoire des mentalites fuse." Roy Porter, Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine
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Rating details

53 ratings
3.81 out of 5 stars
5 30% (16)
4 36% (19)
3 23% (12)
2 8% (4)
1 4% (2)
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