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An Intellectual History of Cannibalism

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691133270
ISBN-10: 0691133271
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Editorial Reviews


"This book is a true banquet, a lavish succession of courses making up a real blowout of facts and references, some spicy, some less so, all served up with delicious side dishes and copious drafts of heady intellectual wine. A few readers may find the whole meal a little more filling than they might have wished, but it is certainly a major scholarly feast."--Simon Blackburn, Times Higher Education

"[T]his is a remarkable work and there really is no other book like it."--Noel Malcolm, Standpoint

"Avramescu's study of the intellectual history of ideas about cannibalism is an absorbing analysis and a compelling critique of the history of political thought, which every student of human history and intraspecies violence will want to include in her personal library. The translation offers a flowing and elegant read, accessible to any educated audience, and would serve well as a textbook in higher education classes on political thought and violence. I recommend the book most highly."--Wendy C. Hamblet, Metapsychology Online

"We have here a fresh look at texts much interpreted, especially from the Enlightenment, but viewed from relatively unexplored angles."--Choice

"Avramescu wants to know why the history of thinking-with-cannibals is coextensive, more or less, with early modern history, the period from the age of discovery to the age of enlightenment. Even if Avramescu's affectionate revival of the figure of the cannibal is not a project of its time, his work reminds us nonetheless of the treasures to be found along the via negativa through the history of political philosophy."--Justin E. H. Smith, n+1

"The book's outstanding feature is the author's encyclopedic knowledge and erudite treatment of relevant historical and philosophical works, travel literature, and geographic literature. . . . [T]here is no denying the extremely original, valuable and challenging nature of this work."--Tim Murphy, European Legacy

"This study is essential reading for those interested in the intellectual history of Europe and for ethnographers concerned with cannibal discourses and fantasies."--Gananath Obeyesekere, Historian

"Romanian philosopher Catalin Avramescu's learned and brilliantly told intellectual history of anthropophagy recovers the cannibal's once central place in formal thought about what it means to be human."--Steven Shapin, Los Angeles Review of Books

"This provocative and often brilliant book is not so much a contribution to 'cannibal' studies as a critical evaluation of the Enlightenment's (and, by extension, our own) moral perspective. . . . Avramescu's research ranges widely, and his readings of familiar texts are always sharp and original. . . . [H]e brilliantly articulates the critical challenges raised by eighteenth-century human science."--David W. Bates, ISIS

From the Back Cover

"In intellectual history, cannibals stand for alien and exotic human beings, specimens of our species who realize its darkest possibilities, usually in places far removed from civilization. Cannibalism both expresses natural law and contravenes it. Avramescu's book is a tour de force. It explains not only why the figure of the cannibal used to be ubiquitous in moral philosophy, but why it has become extinct."--Tom Sorell, University of Birmingham

"In this brilliant book, C?t?lin Avramescu reexamines the Western tradition of social and political thought, restoring our obsession with cannibalism to its proper place in the European imagination. His erudition is overwhelming as he traces the figure of the cannibal, both fascinating and horrifying, through the period when the modern world was being born. Avramescu shows us our history and ourselves in a completely original and gripping way. An Intellectual History of Cannibalism is a real tour de force."--Daniel Garber, Princeton University

"Avramescu's wonderful study treats the cannibal as a scholarly creature who animates theoretical texts. Avramescu provides his readers with a comprehensive view of the various theories and visions of cannibalism. There is no book quite like this. Cannibalism is at the extreme limit of human thought and language. Avramescu allows us to see why, and he does it very well."--Timo Airaksinen, author of The Philosophy of the Marquis de Sade

"This is a splendid book. An Intellectual History of Cannibalism is a persuasive study of European ideas about cannibalism in relation to theories of natural law and the state of nature. Avramescu defends an original thesis about the site of absolute cruelty in political philosophies of early modern and modern societies. His historical knowledge is stunning. His interpretations are always sober and convincing/"--Thomas Pavel, University of Chicago

"A very exciting and original contribution to our understanding of various approaches to cannibalism from the viewpoint of intellectual history. An Intellectual History of Cannibalism adds significantly to our grasp of the nature of evil and its tortuous itineraries within modern civilization. Avramescu offers us a provocative, challenging book on a topic that bears upon the political and moral catastrophes of modern times."--Vladimir Tismaneanu, University of Maryland


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (April 12, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691133271
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691133270
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,214,667 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Every year in high school my son gets his Spanish teacher an odd book/books for the holidays, because she loves strange books and they get a good laugh. This year, this was the book. My son looked through it before he gave it to her and said it very creepy yet very interesting. He presented it to his teacher. After a couple of days she said the same thing. She left it in her room where other students took a look and they said the same thing. They want to take turns reading it. So, even though it started out as kind of a gag gift, everyone has the same opinion. Creepy but very very interesting.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I don't think anybody's tackled the subject like this before -- it's a book about what people historically thought about cannibalism, about the use of the concept in philosophical discourse. Thorough treatment, but little or no attempt to make it accessible to the casual reader.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Fascinating and of course bloody and grim - brilliant historical survey with lots of gruesome examples. This is a serious and scholarly work, however, well researched and authoritative.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A seriously disturbing book. Wanna go to the dark side of your head, this is your ticket.....
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