The Great Cat Massacre : And Other Episodes in French Cultural History
In Paris in the late 1730s an extraordinary event occurred. Two printing-shop apprentices rounded up the neighbourhood cats, including their mistress's favourite pet, and battered them to death. They then staged a mock trial and strung them from gallows, to riotous applause and much hilarity - something we find incomprehensible today. Was this a bizarre carnivalesque ritual? An act to ward off witchcraft? Or a workers' revolt against their tyrannical master? To try to enter the minds of ordinary people in 18th-century France and discover "the mental world of the unenlightened during the Enlightenment", Robert Darnton's engrossing, unusual history analyzes a rich variety of material, including the grim, earthy peasant sources of folk tales such as "Little Red Riding Hood"; a curious description of a city; and a policeman's secret dossier. His innovative ethnographic study shows us not just what people thought in the past, but how differently they viewed the world from us.
- Paperback | 320 pages
- 137 x 216 x 23mm | 342g
- 28 Jun 2001
- Penguin Books Ltd
- London, United Kingdom
- New edition
- New edition
- maps, tables
Table of contents
Peasants tell tales - the meaning of Mother Goose; workers revolt - the great cat massacre of the Rue Saint-Severin; a bourgeois puts his world in order - the city as a text; a police inspector sorts his files - the anatomy of the republic of letters; philosophers trim the tree of knowledge - the epistemological strategy of the "Encyclopedie"; readers response to Rousseau - the fabrication of Romantic sensitivity.
"* 'A brilliant work of popular history' - NEWSWEEK * 'Authoritative... elegant and searching' - DAILY TELEGRAPH * 'A rich and splendid book' - Marghanita Laski"
About Robert Darnton
Robert Darnton was born in New York in 1939 and was educated at Harvard (B.Phil., 1962) and Oxford (D.Phil., 1964). After working as a reporter on The New York Times, he returned to Harvard as a junior research fellow before moving to Princeton where he is Shelby Cullom Davis Professor of History. Professor Darnton is the author of many books on French history.