July 21, 2019 posted by

And, of course, at age 14 it was completely impossible to think of it as anything but useless. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Darnton scours the interpretations of Bettelheim and Fromm, dismissing them for not paying enough attention to the historical circumstances of their construction and their telling. The authentic ones, not those rewrote by Perrault or the Grimms. Darnton is a true historian and is well aware of the flaws and limitations inherent in his approach, but remains at all times entertaining and smooth to read. Cats could harm a house.

Then they stashed it in a gutter while the journeymen drove the other cats across the rooftops, bludgeoning every one within reach and trapping those who tried to escape in strategically placed sacks. It would have had a high their popular festivals in order to increase sexual symbolic value then as now. They reworked them in their own manner, using them to piece together a picture of reality and to show what that picture meant for persons at the bottom of the social ladder. The town dignitaries arrived in procession at the Place du Grand-Saulcy, lit the pyre, and a ring of riflemen from the garrison fired off volleys while the cats disappeared screaming in the flames. Those allowances made, it seems clear that the workers found the massacres fun because it gave them a way to turn the tables on the bourgeois. 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?

What marked it out from others was the theoretical overview supplied in the form of a tree of knowledge, in which Theology was relegated from its primary status as the highest branch of human knowledge, and assigned a very minor and incidental role at the margins. Although it never says so darnfon, the text indicates that the mistress was having an affair with her priest, a histoory youth’, who had memorised obscene passages from the classics of pornography — Aretino and L’Academie des dames — and quoted cultuural to her, while her husband droned on about his favourite subjects, money and religion.


The whole episode, cat massacre compounded by copies, stood out as the most hilarious experience in Jerome’s entire career. Methodologically flawed, but makes some interesting points about the intersection of social and cultural histories — ie.

I thought it was enjoyable and interesting but then I love this sort of investigative history. It should be said at the outset that there is an indefinable je ne sais quoi about cats, a mysterious something that has fascinated mankind since the time of the ancient Egyptians.

To eat the flesh and drink the blood of your grandmother! Some of the studied documents show a wish and need to organize reality, to make sense of things the description of Montpellier, the inspector’s files, the Discoursewhile the others show a way of coping with a hostile world tales or killing cats.

Each of them is a gate through which Darnton tries to enter the mental world of the 18th century Frenchman. The boundaries within which this jesting had to be contained suggest the limits to working-class militancy under the Old Regime. Those questions take us beyond the consideration of early modern labour relations and into the obscure subject of popular ceremonies and symbolism.

The Great Cat Massacre – Wikipedia

Cats played an important part in some charivaris. Leveille re-enacted the entire scene in mime at least twenty times during subsequent days when the printers wanted to knock off for some hilarity. Basic Books Pub date: Overall this is a generally approachable book – not for massacrs completely un-historical, but fun if you’re interested in the development of culture and different styles of Doing History.

Certain animals are good for swearing, just as they are ‘good for thinking’ in Levi-Strauss’s famous formula. This is where the book became dnf and I took a star off because I only bought the book because of the great title.

Cats suited their purposes perfectly. Then the toms would fly at each other like the cats of Kilkenny, and their sabbath would end in a massacre.

When the mistress accused them of killing la grise, they replied with mock deference that ‘nobody would be capable of such an outrage and that they have too much respect for that house’.


Robert Darnton challenges the widely held assumption that cultural systems derive from social orders, and takes the beetle’s eye view, picking out quirky sources that reveal the viewpoint of the ‘native’, dissecting what they say to then draw conclusions about the world they lived in. She carried it back to the village in her apron, and just as they came to the house of a woman suspected of witchcraft, the cat jumped out, saying ‘Merci, Jeanne’.

The double joke would not be lost on anyone who could read the traditional language of gesture. In deciding instead to commission the cat hunt, they fell back on the classic remedy for witch- craft: The study of folklore and cultural history allows us to unlock the mental world of our ancestors, a world that may not massacge accessible through the usual historical sources. Read this for an undergrad history course. I like cultural histories, so this was right in my wheelhouse.

They could spoil the catch if they crossed the path of fishermen in Brittany.

The Great Cat Massacre: And Other Episodes in French Cultural History

View all 30 comments. At any rate, I thought of it on and off but never got around to it, and then a friend gave me a copy when culling their library of extraneous books.

I suppose it was no great surprise to find that, although the book wasn’t quite as brilliant or as fascinating as I remembered, it still held up pretty well. Enter the email address you signed up with and we’ll email you a reset link. These exaggerated serve of the increasingly distant bourgeois. It’s one of those books that I felt I had to finish in case it got epiaodes better, and it did a bit at the last chapter.

Which surprised me, and disappointed me somewhat.