Friday, June 19, 2015

An Intimate History of Humanity

I'm in the middle of reading Theodore Zeldin's An Intimate History of Humanity, a fascinating book published in 1994. This book had been on my shelf so long I have no memory of how I got it: a purchase, a loan, a recommendation? But when I purged all my books a couple of months ago, I hung on to this one and it came up in my to-read stack last week so I plunged in.

Zeldin is a kind of historical sociologist. He's interested in how we relate to each other and how that contemporary relating is influenced by the past. How conversation came into being, how sex and cooking are related, how love is an unfinished revolution, for example. He interweaves historical discussion with the lives of contemporary women who live in France (not all are French).

Many of the ideas are very thought-provoking: homosexuality has not always been taboo, why friendships between men and women are problematic because of the kind of conversations we want, how a military and then economic basis for society impacts sex and marriage.

I'd love to talk about this book with someone.

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