When animals and their symbolic representations—in the Royal Menagerie, in artwork, in medication, in philosophy—helped remodel the French kingdom and culture.
Peter Sahlins's magnificent new publication unearths the impressive and understudied “animal second” in and round 1668 during which authors (including l. a. Fontaine, whose Fables seemed in that year), anatomists, painters, sculptors, and particularly the younger Louis XIV grew to become their awareness to nonhuman beings. on the middle of the yr of the Animal was once the Royal Menagerie within the gardens of Versailles, ruled via unique and swish birds. within the unfolding of his unique and complicated argument, Sahlins exhibits how the animal our bodies of the menagerie and others have been severe to a dramatic rethinking of governance, nature, and the human.
The animals of 1668 helped to shift a whole worldview in France—what Sahlins calls Renaissance humanimalism towards extra glossy expressions of classical naturalism and mechanism. within the wake of 1668 got here the debasement of animals and the strengthening of human animality, together with in Descartes's animal-machine, hugely contested through the 12 months of the Animal. whilst, Louis XIV and his highbrow servants used the animals of Versailles to strengthen after which to remodel the symbolic language of French absolutism. Louis XIV got here to undertake a version of sovereignty after 1668 during which his absolute authority is represented in manifold methods with the our bodies of animals and justified by way of the bestial nature of his human subjects.
1668 explores and reproduces the king's animal collections—in revealed textual content, weaving, poetry, and engraving, all obvious from a distinct interdisciplinary standpoint. Sahlins brings the animals of 1668 jointly and to existence as he observes them severely of their local habitats—within the animal palace itself through Louis Le Vau, the work and tapestries of Charles Le Brun, the backyard installations of André Le Nôtre, the literary paintings of Charles Perrault and the traditional background of his brother Claude, the poetry of Madeleine de Scudéry, the philosophy of René Descartes, the engravings of Sébastien Leclerc, the transfusion experiments of Jean Denis, and others. the writer joins the nonhuman and human brokers of 1668—panthers and painters, swans and scientists, weasels and weavers—in a realized and complex remedy that would interact students and scholars of early sleek France and Europe and readers commonly attracted to the topic of animals in human history.
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1668: The Year of the Animal in France (Zone Books)