ALAIN CORBIN THE FOUL AND THE FRAGRANT PDF

Shelves: history , france , non-fiction , gross , olfactory A tough read, but I persevered due to the frequency of these and other similar words: carnage, carrion, cesspool, decay, decomposition, disgust, excretion, fetid, filth, foul, gorge, noxious, odor, odoriferous, ooze, putrid, putrification, rancid, repugnance, repulsive, revulsion, rot, sewage, stagnant, stench, slime, vapour, waste. What a delight! Corbin takes the most "pungent" of the five human senses and walks readers through the politics, imaginations, and physiology of smell. It only gets a 3-star rating from me, though, because of the obnoxious attempt to use as many terms for smell as possible perhaps 20 - 30 , and for encroaching redundancy to frequently.

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It traces back the social history of smell, particularly in the French capital, with the aim to better understand the "deodorized" world in which we live today. Ever wondered how we ended up being so intolerant towards stench and body odor? You may think the answer lies in the invention of modern hygiene and deodorants, but according to French historian Alain Corbin, things are not that simple.

Indeed, we sometimes forget just how radically science has changed our outlook on Nature in the past centuries; what looks obvious to us, may have been inconceivable to our ancestors. It was falsely identified as a source of contagious and incurable diseases such as pestilence; doctors looked for ways to purify and control so-called "miasmas" by means of pleasant fragrances.

The "stench of the city" was considered a major health threat to all people, regardless of their social class or fortune. In midth century Paris, smell had become a public issue: those who could afford it, made sure to stay clear from the putrid, fecal odors of the streets.

Water was considered another conveyor of malady, therefore bathing was highly discouraged. The bourgeois elite turned to mountain air to preserve their health, and the first plans were devised to restrict urban, public malodors as much as possible. In the first half of the 19th century, smell started to play a role in the private domain as well. Deodorization became a new means of distinction: a way for the elite to "physically remove" themselves as much as possible from the stinky masses.

The Foul and the Fragrant is certainly not an easy book; there are countless references and footnotes on each page, and the subject matter is intricate, not to mention rather philosophical at times. Kochan, R. Porter and C. Included in

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The Foul and the Fragrant: Odour and the French Social Imagination

It traces back the social history of smell, particularly in the French capital, with the aim to better understand the "deodorized" world in which we live today. Ever wondered how we ended up being so intolerant towards stench and body odor? You may think the answer lies in the invention of modern hygiene and deodorants, but according to French historian Alain Corbin, things are not that simple. Indeed, we sometimes forget just how radically science has changed our outlook on Nature in the past centuries; what looks obvious to us, may have been inconceivable to our ancestors. It was falsely identified as a source of contagious and incurable diseases such as pestilence; doctors looked for ways to purify and control so-called "miasmas" by means of pleasant fragrances.

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