The Great Cat Massacre: And Other Episodes in French Cultural History
In Paris in the late 1730s an extraordinary event occurred. Two printing-shop apprentices rounded up the neighbourhood cats, including their mistress ... Show synopsis In Paris in the late 1730s an extraordinary event occurred. Two printing-shop apprentices rounded up the neighbourhood cats, including their mistress's favourite pet, and battered them to death. They then staged a mock trial and strung them from gallows, to riotous applause and much hilarity - something we find incomprehensible today. Was this a bizarre carnivalesque ritual? An act to ward off witchcraft? Or a workers' revolt against their tyrannical master? To try to enter the minds of ordinary people in 18th-century France and discover "the mental world of the unenlightened during the Enlightenment", Robert Darnton's engrossing, unusual history analyzes a rich variety of material, including the grim, earthy peasant sources of folk tales such as "Little Red Riding Hood"; a curious description of a city; and a policeman's secret dossier. His innovative ethnographic study shows us not just what people thought in the past, but how differently they viewed the world from us.