Call Boomerang Books 1300 36 33 32

Description - The Platypus and the Mermaid by Harriet Ritvo

"Cats is "dogs", and rabbits is "dogs", and so's parrots; but this 'ere "tortis" is a insect", a porter explains to an astonished traveller in a 19th-century "Punch" cartoon. Railways were not the only British institution to schematize the world. This book aims to capture the fervour of the Victorian age for classifying and categorizing every new specimen, plant or animal, that British explorers and soldiers and sailors brought home. As she depicts a whole complex of competing groups deploying rival schemes and nomenclatures, Harriet Ritvo shows us a society drawing and redrawing its own boundaries and ultimately identifying itself. The experts (whether calling themselves naturalists, zoologists, or comparative anatomists) agreed on their superior authority if nothing else, but the laymen had their say and Ritvo shows us a world in which butchers and artists, farmers and showmen vied to impose order on the wild profusion of nature. Sometimes assumptions or preoccupations overlapped; sometimes open disagreement or hostility emerged, exposing fissures in the social fabric or contested cultural territory. Of the greatest interest were creatures that confounded or crossed established categories; in the discussions provoked by these mishaps, monstrosities, and hybrids we can see ideas about human society about the sexual proclivities of women, for instance, or the imagined hierarchy of nations and races. An account of taxonomy as zoological classification and as anthropological study, this book offers a new perspective on the constantly shifting, ever suggestive interactions of scientific lore, cultural ideas, and the popular imagination.

Buy The Platypus and the Mermaid by Harriet Ritvo from Australia's Online Independent Bookstore, Boomerang Books.

Book Details

ISBN: 9780674673588
ISBN-10: 0674673581
Format: Paperback
(235mm x 155mm x 18mm)
Pages: 298
Imprint: Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publish Date: 15-Oct-1998
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions - The Platypus and the Mermaid by Harriet Ritvo

Book Reviews - The Platypus and the Mermaid by Harriet Ritvo

» Have you read this book? We'd like to know what you think about it - write a review about Platypus and the Mermaid book by Harriet Ritvo and you'll earn 50c in Boomerang Bucks loyalty dollars (you must be a Boomerang Books Account Holder - it's free to sign up and there are great benefits!)

Write Review

Author Biography - Harriet Ritvo

Harriet Ritvo is Arthur J. Conner Professor of History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Books By Harriet Ritvo

Nature of the Beasts by Harriet Ritvo
Hardback, July 2013
Dawn of Green by Harriet Ritvo
Paperback, June 2012
Animal Estate by Harriet Ritvo
Paperback, January 1989