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Table of Contents

Table of Contents Table of illustrations Introduction Chapter one: Our unique sense of smell Is science always objective? A sense of danger, emotions, and delight Chapter 2: A Pervasive stench The foul air of medieval towns Urban cess pits The smell of profit Pollutant trades Countryside smells Chapter three: Joyous matter A scholarly culture of scatology Aromatic blasons Humour in the conte The Way to Succeed Odorous wind Chapter four: Scent of a woman Demonising the smell of women When ladies did not smell of roses At arm's length Guilty women A breath of eroticism The gutter press A literary stink Death and the old woman Demonic pleasure Chapter five: The Devil's breath Venomous vapours Plague-ridden towns Perfume as armour Perfumed rituals Rue, vinegar and tobacco Pomanders Chapter six: Musky scents Fountains of youth Ambergris, musk and civet The perfumed glove trade The eroticism of leather Nothing new under the Sun King? Drawing death's sting The great animal slaughter Chapter seven: Civilising floral essences The perfume revolution Luxuriating in baths of scent Sensual faces Bodily hair care The scent of powder The emperor's perfumer Conclusion Bibliography A note on quotations Principle manuscript sources Primary sources Selected bibliography

About the Author

Robert Muchembled is a writer and Honorary Professor at the University of Paris.


"Mr. Muchembled's fine-grained and evocative research shows how eloquent smell can be in helping us understand the past." The Wall Street Journal "Muchembled reminds us that the variables of time and place may defy a truly shared language. What we smell depends on what's in vogue and what's valued-on what cultural forces happen to be swirling in the air." The New Yorker "In this fascinating study, with unexpected twists and turns, Robert Muchembled explores the opaque topic of smell as if he were discovering a new continent that is as rich as it is mysterious." Historia "A rigorous, rich and lively book." Les Cahiers de Science & Vie "Smells is part scholarly treatise, part fascinating popular history, dashed through with a soupcon of wit." Foreword Reviews "This lively book combines scholarship with readability and ranges from plague to perfume, from the stink of cities to jokes about smelly people. Its interesting examples should appeal to an equally wide range of readers." Peter Burke, University of Cambridge "Robert Muchembled's new history is full of disgusting, delicious details... If you've ever wondered how living without modern technologies of sanitation might have shaped the surrounding culture, this book is for you." Slate "Lively" London Review of Books "delightful carnival of olfaction" The Spectator "Smells's melange of the scholarly with the scatalogical makes for a dazzling, lusty romp through European history." Foreword Reviews "An illuminating piece of social history." Fortean Times 'Book of the Week' in The Daily Mail "Captivating... Elegantly wicked and meticulous in its execution" The Australian "engrossing" Frieze

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