The Great Cat Massacre: And Other Episodes in French Cultural History

3100 Words 13 Pages
The Great Cat Massacre with out a doubt has one of the most unusual titles ever created especially for a book about history. Now this unusual title perhaps fits this book better than any other straight - forward title Mr. Darnton could have conjured. You see the text contained in the book isn’t just your standardized, boring, and redundant view of history. Most historical text looks at history from a political standpoint, of which king did what and what were the political effects of a war; then what were the politics like after the war, how were they changed and by which major political figures did the changing. Darnton instead of the old style of viewing history looks at it through the eyes of the people, and not the figures of history. …show more content…
Next Darnton goes to explain the standard mode of processing the text, which would be to hire some psychoanalysts to break down the hidden meaning and intentions of the story’s creator and or creators. In the case of Little Red Riding Hood they did just that two of the best known psychoanalysts, Erich Fromm and Bruno Bettelheim. The two psychoanalysts decipher the children’s tale stating that the story concerns an adolescent’s confrontation with adult sexuality and that the red hood as a symbol of menstruation and the bottle of milk a sign of virginity. Darnton goes on to later explain that this is not an accurate depiction of peasants concerns, but more so of the middle to upper class. Fromm and Bettelheim, according to Darnton never mentions their source, but Darnton would later state that it was derived from the Brothers Grimm tales.
     In the following chapter we find out where the book’s title comes from an actual historical event called “The Great Cat Massacre”. In the chapter Darnton examines the gruesome yet comical account of some apprentices and journeymen working in the printing shop of Jacques Vincent. (Darnton Pg. 75) Told from the accounts of Nicolas Contat and other collaborating sources to explain the thought process behind their actions of that day. The event itself was a massive killing of cats in a sense to pay back for the frustrations the workers had towards the shops master printer Jacques Vincent and his wife. The

More about The Great Cat Massacre: And Other Episodes in French Cultural History

Open Document