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Smells: A Cultural History of Odours in Early Modern Times Reviews

Smells: A Cultural History of Odours in Early Modern Times by Robert Muchembled, Susan Pickford

Smells: A Cultural History of Odours in Early Modern Times

Robert Muchembled, Susan Pickford

Score pending

1 review

Category: History, Non-fiction
Imprint: Polity Press
Publisher: Polity Press
Publication date: 22 May 2020
ISBN: 9781509536771

"A rich cultural history of smells that sheds new light on an under-appreciated sense"--

3 stars out of 5
15 May 2020

"A vivid and provocative gallop through history "

Muchembled’s is a vivid, intense and provocative gallop through early modern times. There’s probably too much defecation for most tastes, and while some fart jokes are laugh-out-loud, a lengthy chapter devoted to them feels like being locked in a boys’ boarding school dorm. Stopping at the 19th century also seems to be cutting off Smell’s nose to spite its face, especially given the tantalising titbits the author offers from the present day. Too many lines of thought end too abruptly, not least the narratives around the social implications of smell, which would have had a brilliant corollary in the fragrant class divides of this year’s Oscar-winning film Parasite. Which is a shame, as there’s little here to turn your nose up at.

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