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This is going to be a split review. For content, interesting subject matter, and presentation this would have an extra star. I definitely consider this a fun non-fiction book for people scared of non-fiction. Unfortunately, it does read like a slightly inflated dissertation, and from other sources listed in the bibliography, I gather that it isn't the first publication on this particular animal, but that isn't the deal-breaker for me. My problem is that Ridley refers to MANY artistic pieces in g...
In 1741 a Dutch sea captain, Douwemout Van der Meer, bought a live rhinoceros named Clara. He spent the next seventeen years touring Europe with Clara, the first and only rhinoceros most eighteenth century people ever saw. Clara's Grand Tour: Travels with a Rhinoceros in Eighteenth-Century Europe by Glynis Ridley is the story of this grand tour, of Clara's fame and of Van der Meer's careful handling of that fame.It's almost as much fun as the title implies. I mean, how can you possibly go wr...
Really liked this book. (with the only frustrating thing is losing the book 100 pages from the end and then searching for it.) It was a fantastic convergence of natural science, art, and philosphy in the 18th century. Clara was a very lucky rhinoceros who not only got to see the world, but re-created the whole way of thinking about rhinoceros in her time. She inspired artists, poets, science, fashion all to be created (for a brief nistant) in her image. It was rhinoceros mania and it really infe...
This was a delightful read - it went along at about as quick of a pace as Clara ate hay. Along the way, I learned lots of interesting things about rhinoceroses, travel during the middle 1700's and some things about European history and culture during the mid 1700's that I know I never knew before. Now I really want to find a nearby zoo where there is at least one Indian rhino to look at, so that I can have a live view of what people saw when they viewed Clara. Not surprised at all that this won
Not much about rhinos in the end. I would recommend it to people interested in history especially the 1740s-1750s in Europe; also for art historians. The most interesting part was about how research leads from info to other info and on and on. How little things can make a big impact on history. It was dry and boring at times, but overall a good read. I really wish that it had more illustrations.
What a lovely book. Ridley hasn't written about about rhinoceroses in general but about Clara in particular and her relationship with the people of 18th century Europe. While you know from the start that Clara is long dead, the personal relationship that Ridley builds for the reader makes the eventual description of her death (and its effect on her owner)feel like the loss of a neighborhood pet.
That was a quick read! Perfect for those afternoons when you don't want to commit to something dense and there is nothing compelling on the fiction shelf. The chapters are short and enjoyable. I won't spoil your enjoyment with the handful of tidbits I gleaned. But what could I say - it's about a freakin' rhinoceros hitting the European hotspots in the eighteenth century! You get a little politics, a little art, and a little reminder of European culture's long-standing issues with hubris.
I don't know what to say...this just tickled my fancy.The sheer technical feat of traveling across Europe with a rhinoceros in an era before trains is amazing. Better still were the details of Clara's upbringing (she ate off china plates and loved oranges and the smell of tobacco). The description of the craze for all things "Rhino" is quite humorous.
Well-done history of an oddity: the peregrinations of an 18th-century Indian rhinoceros throughout Europe. Clara got to meet everyone who was anybody, modeled for the lucky artists of Meissen, had her own stretch limo (or the enlightenment's version of one) and lived to a ripe old age. I wonder if she missed home?
Still in the process of reading this book - but it just reminds me of how much I love to read well-researched books about subjects I had no idea even existed. And how the true story of a rhino traveling the continent can turn into a story about media and marketing, but in the most interesting sense.
I love European history in the 1500s-1700s, and this is a pleasant twist - the story of the first rhinoceros to make a tour of Europe and gain the favor of kings and queens. It's also the story of her handler, a quiet man with a crazy dream, a clever ad-man, who made himself rich.
couldn't resist reading about the true story of a 3 ton rhinocerous who was shipped from India to Europe in 1741 and then travelled from country to country for 17 years in the back of a wagon as a showpiece - not your average rhinos life
I liked this book. Really, it's kind of odd to read about a rhinoceros that was toured through Europe in the 17th century, especially because most of the details are speculation, but it was interesting because it shows that marketing and promotion hasn't really changed much in the last 400 years.
Interesting little book about Europe and the first Rhinoceros seen for a millenia... you really get a feel for how commoners and royalty both were hungry for novelty & real experience of things they had heard legends about.
great subject, read more like someone's college thesis
Ridley focuses more on the woodcut images of the rhinoceros than she does on the rhinoceros. Maybe because the rhinoceros's main activity is eating 150 lbs. of vegetation per day??