The second volume of A History of Private Life is a treasure-trove of rich and colorful detail culled from an astounding variety of sources. This absorbing “secret epic” constructs a vivid picture of peasant and patrician life in the eleventh to fifteenth centuries.
What gives the volume its unity is not so much a rigorous definition of the subject, private life, as a consistency of concentration on a series of very interesting, interrelated themes: living space, and the degree of privacy that it can afford; family relationships, with special references to the nuclear group that centers around a single married couple; relations between the sexes (both amorous and domestic); attitudes toward the body and nudity; the sense of individuality and self-perception… This volume offers a very full, richly variegated picture of the life, in different places and at different periods, of the Middle Ages. It has lavish and well-chosen illustrations to match the text.
Profusely and intelligently illustrated, generously margined, and wisely and clearly written…[this volume] invites a profound reconsideration of our notions about much of the past and suggests new ways of looking at it… We ought to be inspired to think about our own notion and practice of private life.
The material in this second anthology…is personally involving and profoundly informative… This immense work of imaginative history lifts us out of our own constructed walls. It reveals to us not only the shapes and colors of another time, but of our own.
Like its predecessor in the same series, [this book] makes full use of the whole range of evidence and, most strikingly, the visual… This thoughtful, handsome book would be a fine addition to any library.
Spanning the period from the 11th century to the Renaissance and focusing on France and Tuscan Italy, this continues the projected five-volume history of private life from the Roman world to the present. ‘Private’ is here defined as what medieval people considered intimate, familial, domestic… [The book] display[s] an astounding knowledge and use of sources and offer rich detail about everything from affection and sex to domestic arrangements and latrines. The many illustrations strongly support the text. Essential for both research and general collections.
The new emphasis on the history of everybody has now been consecrated in [this] ambitious five-volume series…masterfully translated by Arthur Goldhammer… Copious illustrative materials—paintings, drawings, caricatures, and photographs, all cannily chosen and wittily captioned to display domestic life… Magnificent.
Together these five compact volumes cover much of the history of the classical world, and do so with both ease and authority.
- 688 pages
- 7 x 9 inches
- Belknap Press
- Series edited by Phillippe Ariès and Georges Duby
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