A Natural History of the Senses

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Overview

If Colette had studied science and spent time listening to icebergs in Antarctica and interviewing a professional nose in New York, she might have written a book as luscious and erudite as A Natural History of the Senses. In the course of this grand tour of the realm of the senses, Diane Ackerman writes about the evolution of the kiss, the sadistic cuisine of eighteenth-century England, the chemistry of pain, and the melodies of the planet Earth with an evocativeness and charm that make the book itself a marvel ...
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Read By Author Los Angeles, CA, USA 1995 Audio Book On Cassettes Audio Book Very Good (Cassette Tapes) in Good (Box) jacket Brief summary of content available upon request by ... e-mail. Abridged audio book on 4 cassettes. Running time 6 hours. Read more Show Less

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A Natural History of the Senses

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Overview

If Colette had studied science and spent time listening to icebergs in Antarctica and interviewing a professional nose in New York, she might have written a book as luscious and erudite as A Natural History of the Senses. In the course of this grand tour of the realm of the senses, Diane Ackerman writes about the evolution of the kiss, the sadistic cuisine of eighteenth-century England, the chemistry of pain, and the melodies of the planet Earth with an evocativeness and charm that make the book itself a marvel of literate sensuality.

In a celebration of our ability to smell, taste, touch, hear, and see, Ackerman weaves together scientific facts with lore, history, and description to create an enchanting account of how humans experience the world.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Physiology and philosophy mesh in this poetic investigation of the five senses; essays explore synesthesia, food taboos, kissing and the power and diversity of music. ``Rooted in science, enlivened by her own convincing sense of wonder, Ackerman's essays awaken us to a fresh awareness,'' said PW. (Sept.)
Library Journal
The five senses not only serve biological functions, they also are inextricably a part of our culture. Award-winning poet Ackerman celebrates the senses by examining their biological bases and the various and bizarre ways we have come to indulge them. Her catalog of the senses is itself a sensuous journey, with prose rich in imagery and rhythm. Ackerman's book is a provocative and entertaining treat whose details will bestir the reader's imagination. Consider, for example, the guest whose pleasure for fragrance led to an untimely death in a shower of rose petals at a Roman feast, or the diner whose thrill at exciting the palate proved deadly upon tasting the poisonous puffer fish. Unlike the fish, this savory delight is recommended for general readers.-- Laurie Bartolini, Lincoln Lib., Springfield, Ill.
School Library Journal
YA-- An exciting multidiscipline book that crosses the lines of literature, history, anthropology, music, psychology, sociology, and philosophy and that flows with grace and reason. The theme is expressed in such a way as to draw readers into experiential thought and, therefore, impacts heavily upon the way one looks at the issue of sensing and its role for humanity. It is sure to raise readers' consciousness level while providing researched and analyzed information on this topic. In addition, the language is clear and concise, which makes the book valuable to a large cross section of readers. The generous use of cultural and historical examples adds to the readability.-- Nancy Craig, R. E. Lee High School, Springfield, VA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781879371729
  • Publisher: Publishing Mills, Inc., The
  • Publication date: 1/28/1995
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: 2 Cassettes
  • Product dimensions: 4.23 (w) x 6.98 (h) x 1.18 (d)

Meet the Author

Diane Ackerman
Diane Ackerman
Diane Ackerman is the acclaimed author of A Natural History of the Senses, the bestselling The Zookeeper's Wife, Dawn Light, One Hundred Names for Love, and many other books. She lives in Ithaca, New York, and Palm Beach, Florida.
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Table of Contents

Introduction
In Every Sense xv
Smell 3
The Mute Sense 5
A Map of Smell 6
Of Violets and Neurons 9
The Shape of Smell 11
Buckets of Light 15
The Winter Palace of Monarchs 18
The Oceans Inside Us 20
Notions and Nations of Sweat 21
The Personality of Smell 23
Pheromones 26
Noses 30
Sneezing 31
Smell As Camouflage 32
Roses 33
The Fallen Angel 37
Anosmia 40
Prodigies of Smell 44
A Famous Nose 45
An Offering to the Gods 54
Cleopatra's Heirs 59
Touch 65
The Feeling Bubble 67
Speaking of Touch 70
First Touches 71
What is a Touch? 80
The Code Senders 83
Hair 84
The Inner Climate 88
The Skin Has Eyes 94
Adventures In the Touch Dome 96
Animals 98
Tattoos 99
Pain 101
Easing Pain 104
The Point of Pain 106
Kissing 108
The Hand 115
Professional Touchers 119
Taboos 121
Subliminal Touch 122
Taste 125
The Social Sense 127
Food and Sex 130
The Omnivore's Picnic 132
Of Cannibalism and Sacred Cows 135
The Bloom of a Taste Bud 138
The Ultimate Dinner Party 143
Macabre Meals 146
The Heart of Craving 148
The Psychopharmacology of Chocolate 153
In Praise of Vanilla 157
The Truth About Truffles 161
Ginger, and Other Medicines 163
How to Make Moose Soup In a Hole in the Ground, or Dine in Space 165
Et Fugu, Brute? Food as Thrill-Seeking 167
Beauty and the Beasts 171
Hearing 173
The Hearing Heart 175
Phantoms and Drapes 180
Jaguar of Sweet Laughter 182
Loud Noises 186
The Limits of Hearing, the Power of Sound 188
Deafness 191
Animals 193
Quicksand and Whale Songs 198
The Violin Remembers 202
Music and Emotion 205
Is Music a Language? 209
Measure for Measure 216
Cathedrals in Sound 219
Earth Calling 222
Vision 227
The Beholder's Eye 229
How to Watch the Sky 235
Light 249
Color 252
Why Leaves Turn Color in the Fall 257
Animals 260
The Painter's Eye 267
The Face of Beauty 270
Watching a Night Launch of the Space Shuttle 279
The Force of an Image: Ring Cycle 281
The Round Walls of Home 283
Synesthesia 287
Fantasia 289
Courting the Muse 292
Postscript 301
Further Reading 311
Index 317
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 9 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2004

    Can't Stand Her!

    I had to buy this book for a college class. I must say I thought this book was written by a quirky woman who lives in some old mansion with 50 cats or something. In many parts, it gets so sappy that I can barely read it. There are some interesting stories in it nevertheless, but for the most part, it's like reading sugar x 10. I wouldn't recommend it.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2004

    old time favorite

    I read this book a long time ago but I was so impressed with her writing style that I keep going back to it. THis book takes numbness of life away.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2001

    An intelligent, sensual read.

    Enchanting and informative, this book leads you through each of the human senses. Ackerman is in top form

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted November 9, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted June 13, 2009

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    Posted April 6, 2009

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    Posted May 3, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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