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1668: The Year of the Animal in France Hardcover – October 13, 2017
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Hardcover, October 13, 2017
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Peter Sahlins has given us a spellbinding account -- deeply and imaginatively researched -- of the new and devalorizing attitudes toward animals that emerged in the early decades of Louis XIV's reign, nourished by natural philosophy and Cartesian thought. Depicted by artists, sculptors, and poets, animals -- whether peaceful or violent -- were put to the service of royal absolutism and social hierarchy. 1668: The Year of the Animal tells a delicate and complex story, and brings us a compelling new perspective on the cultural and political history of early modern times.(Natalie Zemon Davis, University of Toronto)
Peter Sahlins's gorgeous new book brings a lost world back to life: that of the architects and virtuosi, artists, and courtiers who built and visited the menageries of Louis XIV. Sahlins shows us that they -- like their king -- found animals good to think with and even better to portray. In the shadow of Descartes' new understanding of animal nature, the servants of absolutism used animals and transfused them, portrayed them as the inhabitants of a peaceable kingdom dominated by birds and then, as the character of Louis' rule changed, as wild and frightening. The reader has a field day following this most perspicacious of guides as he explores menageries, reads texts, and interprets tapestries. Both philosophical and erudite history, Sahlins's book is as entertaining as it is original.(Anthony T. Grafton, Princeton University)
About the Author
Peter Sahlins is Professor of History, University of California, Berkeley.