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Europe at Home: Family and Material Culture, 1500-1800 Hardcover – October 1, 2002

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Editorial Reviews


"Sarti deals with a subject of widespread curiosity: how people actually lived in the past. Hers is a wonderful book, tackling questions about housing, furnishings, food, dining, and clothes, and providing one fascinating discussion after another." - David Kertzer, Brown University

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Italian

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; First Edition edition (October 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300085427
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300085426
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,350,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jerzy E. Henisz on December 10, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After reading an exhaustive review by James A. Haluska, Jr. I felt intimidated by the depth of his analysis. Having no professional background in history I hardly could compete with his evaluation. Still I strongly disagree with two stars rating.
My interest in "Europe at Home" originated from my work on biography of Georg Henisch (1549-1618.) While I had access to all his thirty-four books and pamphlets stored in Augsburg Library I could not get any useful information about his everyday life. Finally I came across of Raffaella Sarti book as well as Ann Tlusty: “Augsburg during the Reformation Era” and gaps were partially filled. Both books have one thing in common: instead of traditional sources in official history the authors rely on chronicles, inventories, ordinance, court reports, wills and other documents pertaining to everyday life. The wealth of information of such materials is overwhelming and traditional historians often ignored the data.
From Sarti’s book one may learn how family names were adopted and changed, why using forks was considered, for years, a sinful habit, while women were late in adopting to wearing underwear, the cost of shoes, etc., etc. You find there everything about daily life of people, from lower classes to aristocracy and the book has such richness of information that is worth reading more than once. It is, occasionally, repetitious and generalizations plus philosophical conclusions are the weakest part. One has to remember that is was written in the period of second wave of feminist movement and the author was engaged in challenging many established “truths” about the role of women in history. So forget philosophical discourse and enjoy kaleidoscopic view of life in early modern period in Europe.
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11 of 17 people found the following review helpful By James A. Haluska, Jr. on November 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
Sarti wrote this book back in the 1960s to explore the lives of common folk in Europe during the age of The Enlightenment. This is a broad scope, both in geography and in timeframe. The most solid aspect of this book comes in the opening chapter where she tries to break down the modern concept of the family to explore what family meant to Europeans then. This is well done in that she shows that the defintion of family does change, depending on time, space and circumstances. However, when she continues on into the material culture of the time, she baffles the reader by stating her findings, but then goes into almost endless examples of how there are exceptions to the rule, and there are many. While you may want to know the exceptions to the rule, a clear, concise trend of what was occuring would be nice. Essentially, Sarti needed to condense her work into something more coherant.

Raffaella Sarti tackles a broad topic in her work, Europe at Home: Family and Material Culture, 1500 - 1800. Sarti's exploration of European domestic life is daunting. She attempts to explore the emerging material culture and changes in family structure from Old Regime Europe to the Age of Revolution. To tackle a topic this broadly is no easy task. Further, not only is the timeframe expansive, so too is the geography. She, "...adopt[s] the territory of modern Europe, which extends from North Cape, Norway to the island of Lampedusa, Italy, and from the Urals to Portugal."(Sarti, 3) Sarti admits that there are inherent problems in tackling such a work. This work, "...cannot provide exhaustive coverage of the various problems in each of the different fields of study or of the results achieved.
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