• No Comments

Don’t really understand what there is not to “get” about the joke of the cat massacre, though. Darnton describes how, as the apprentices suffered hard conditions, they came to resent the favours which their masters gave to their cats , and contrived to deal with the nuisance cats by slaughtering them so as to distress their masters. To get over colic, you mixed your wine with cat excrement. It comprises six essays, each of which considers a very specific aspect of life in France during the first half of the 18th century, using a particular incident or set of documents as a point of departure. Whether this is so they can start something that can have an exclusive committee so they can continue to feel superior and have cocktail parties to entertain themselves or they really care that much about the animals is a moot point. Leveille in particular functioned as a joker, a mock ‘sorcerer’ staging a fake ‘sabbath’, according to the terms chosen by Contat. An extensive description of the town of Montpellier in by an anonymous but solidly bourgeois citizens provides a remarkable glimpse of the power structure, relationships between the different classes and prevailing attitudes.

The subjective character of the writing does not vitiate its collective frame of reference, even though the written account must be thin compared with the action it describes. Mar 30, Daniel Polansky added it. Parisians like to incinerate cats by the sackful, while the Courimauds cour a miaud or cat chasers of Saint Chamond preferred to chase a flaming cat through the streets. To cross one at night in virtually any corner of France was to risk running into the devil or one of his agents or a witch abroad on an evil errand. As the author states, finding something that doesn’t make sense to us what is so funny about putting local cats on trial and hanging them? He claimed that the republic still survived in the form of the chapelle or workers’ association in each shop.

By getting the joke of the great cat massacre, it may be possible to ‘get’ a basic ingredient of artisanal culture under the Old Regime. That is why Jews do not eat pigs, according to Epispdes Douglas, and why Englishmen can insult one another by saying ‘son-of-a-bitch’, rather than ‘son-of-a-cow’, according to Edmund Leach.

Peasants frequently cudgelled cats who crossed their paths at night and discovered the next day that bruises had appeared on women believed to be witches — or so it was said in the lore of their village. These have been preserved in written form, altered to se This is collection of essays, albeit all serving a common purpose, and it would be sufficiently interesting to write a review discussing any one of them.

Quotes from The Great Cat Mas Reading the Past, The cultures of the past did manipulate 8. The journeymen also felt threatened from below because the masters tended increasingly to hire alloues, or underqualified printers, who had not undergone the apprenticeship that made a journeyman eligible, in principle, to advance to a mastership. This page was last edited on 7 Octoberat She might postpone marriage for a year — or for seven years in Quimper and for as many years as the cat meowed in parts of the Loire Valley.


The Great Cat Massacre by Robert Darnton (, Hardcover) | eBay

It will look into the debate in this can be a hindrance for historians the s surrounding the work of Robert working in many other forms of dpisodes, Darnton in the area,1 in his application of for the purposes of the use of literary texts anthropological and semiotic theory to as a source for popular cultural history this the subject. Le chat, la chatte, le minet mean the same thing in French slang as ‘pussy’ does in English, and they have served as obscenities for centuries.

Then she realised it might be la grise. Even in that chapter on peasants it felt like there was an emphasis on men – he uses the Perrault versions of the stories as his ‘literary’ comparisons, and of course the Grim brothers, and acknowledges that Jeanette Hassenpflug was the latter’s source, but Marie Catherine d’Aulnoy gets one mention only.

The study of folklore and cultural history allows us to unlock the mental world of tne ancestors, a world that may not be accessible through the usual historical sources.

The text made the theme of sorcery explicit from the beginning. The alloues were merely a source of cheap labour, excluded from the upper ranks of the trade and fixed, in their inferior status, by an edict of The workers’ mode of expression was a kind of popular theatre. Finally, they transformed it into a charivari, which served as a means to insult her sexually while mocking him as a cuckold.

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. Flannery et al for examples of this, or Brilliant and interesting essay, so 5 stars. They found the cats guilty of witchcraft and sentenced them to death by hanging. Folklorists have ffench historians familiar with the ceremonial cycles that marked off the calendar year for early modern man.

Enter the email address you signed up with and we’ll earnton you a reset link. The bourgeois made an excellent butt of the joke.

Great Cat Massacre

This ambiguous ontological position, a straddling of conceptual categories, gives certain animals — pigs, dogs and cassowaries as well as cats — in certain cultures an occult power associated with the taboo. The next chapte This is an enterprise in ethnographic history.

It suggests that the police were fully aware of a growing distance between the King and his people, and also an emerging threat to traditional religious beliefs with the growth of secular thought.


Jerome and Leveille could not sleep because ‘some bedevilled cats make a sabbath all night long’. To protect a new house, Frenchmen enclosed live cats within its walls — a very old rite, judging from cat skeletons that have been exhumed from the walls of medieval buildings. Insubstantial as it may seem today, this joking was a risky business in the eighteenth century. All in all I am glad that I read this book and it offers some interesting insight into the world before and during the Enlightenment and Revolution.

The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History

At this point the master appeared. They could spoil the catch if they crossed the path of fishermen in Brittany. The perception of that distance may serve as the starting point of an investigation, for anthropologists have found that the best points of entry in an attempt to penetrate an alien culture can be those where it seems to be most opaque.

Later, he and the wife spent the night together in a country house.

I understand the professor’s attitude: I thought it was enjoyable and interesting but then I love this sort of investigative history. Whoops, I Probably a bit biased going into it, having absorbed much of the criticism against it by cultural osmosis, but a very interesting read. And he wrote down what he had helped to enact with his mates. French fairy tales are often very bawdy indeed.

They often smothered babies. Darnton is very readable, though I found some of his inferences less persuasive on this second reading. This further illustrates the conlict between the material and symbolic forms of anthro- In conclusion, anthropology and semiot- pology in their use for cultural historical ics have to be used carefully in the analysis purposes.

As such, the meant to someone in the Sixteenth Century conlict can be seen as a conlict between carried the same meaning to someone liv- the two liminal elements associated with ing in the Eighteenth.

The Great Cat Massacre by Robert Darnton (1984, Hardcover)

It’s mqssacre pretty easy, quick read if you’re familiar with general European history. The French do not have nursery rhymes! All the counting and record-keeping I like histories, but this one may be for the true Francophiles out there A woman who wanted to get a man should avoid treading on a cat’s tail. The intrigue cast the master in the role of a stock comic figure: