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The Tiger in the House: A Cultural History of the Cat

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3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  71 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
“A god, a companion to sorceresses at the Witches’ Sabbath, a beast who is royal in Siam, who in Japan is called ‘the tiger that eats from the hand,’ the adored of Mohammed, Laura’s rival with Petrarch, the friend of Richelieu, the favorite of poets”—such are just a few of the feline distinctions that Carl Van Vechten records in this glorious historical overview of humanit ...more
Hardcover, 452 pages
Published March 27th 2007 by NYRB Classics (first published 1920)
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Sketchbook
Nov 15, 2011 Sketchbook rated it it was amazing
"This, certainly, is a cat bible," advised the London
Spectator. CVVs history of manners & habits of cats is,
frankly, too recondite -- espec if, like me, your pets
are limited to 2 feet.

Chapts deal w the cat in music, law, theatre, poetry,
folklore, fiction, the occult. "The cat lives alone, has
no need of society," notes CVV, "does not obey, except
what he likes. He gives affection where it pleases him
and withholds from those he deems unworthy." Yes. "Cats
are sensitive, self-reliant, nervous, c
...more
Chris
Mar 16, 2008 Chris rated it it was ok
I didn't finish this book. It was too rambling, I guess. And Van Vechten too effete. There are long passages in French, presented without translation. I don't read French. There were a lot of words I'd never seen before and, when I'd look them up (in the O.E.D!!) they didn't exist. I think he just made shit up. And that may be true with some of the amazing cat stories he tells too. So, it was interesting. I'd like to finish it at some point, but it just wasn't any fun to read any longer.
Becky Lord
Feb 26, 2013 Becky Lord rated it it was ok
Horribly outdated and really just a list of quotes and anecdotes, half of which are in French. I enjoyed a few sections, but in reality, this book is an example of an excellent concept executed very poorly. Too bad. Perhaps I should write a similar book.
Niffer
Mar 29, 2016 Niffer rated it liked it
I recently read Ex Libris by Anne Fadiman, and she had an entire essay based on the vocabulary that she learned from this book. I thought it might be fun to read, so I got it from the library.

Anne Fadiman shares the words she didn't know with friends and colleagues of hers, and was interested that the older people knew a fair number of the words. She speculates that the book was written for a different generation. I think that's a fairly astute observation. This book was published in 1920 and it
...more
Keena
Jul 24, 2015 Keena rated it it was ok
Not really sure how I feel about this one. It was pretty amusing at times, but there was a LOT in french which I was unable to read. And there was one strange out of place racist sentence that was weird. And after some of the assertions that I found dubious, I was left wondering just how much of the book was believable.
Deb
Mar 22, 2012 Deb rated it it was ok
Shelves: cats
This had been recommended in Anne Fadiman's Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader, and I love cats, so I borrowed it through my local library.

Sadly, it was not at all what I expected. The writing was tedious, and about half the quotations and references were in French, shich I do not read fluently enough to be able to deal with without a phrasebook. Fortunately, my roommate reads French better than I do, so I was able to get at least the gist of things.

However, I cannot recommend this book.
...more
InTrance
Apr 17, 2015 InTrance rated it it was amazing
Scritto da Dio. E solo per gli amanti del felino.
Bill
Apr 23, 2016 Bill rated it liked it
This is an old fashioned book filled with lots of old fashioned facts about cats by nearly forgetten 19th century and early 20th century authors. You will either like it or hate it depending on your taste for obscurity. I imagine in its day the book was quite current but times change and memories are short. You will need to consult your cell phone dictionary as well as the author loves obscure words.
Samantha
Sep 10, 2008 Samantha rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: cat lovers
A witty, comprehensive and fascinating look at our feline friends. Like a rich dessert: best digested in small servings, with a craving still on your tongue...
Sarah Sammis
Sep 17, 2016 Sarah Sammis marked it as to-read
Recommended to Sarah by: tuttle88
Due October 8, 2016
J.M.
Oct 22, 2015 J.M. rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
Not for me.
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American novelist, music-dance critic, born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, educated at the University of Chicago. Van Vechten (1880-1964) was one of the most influential literary figures of the 1910s and 1920s. He began his career in journalism as a reporter, then in 1906 joined The New York Times as assistant music critic and later worked as its Paris correspondent. His early reviews are collected in Int ...more
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“Cats have gnosis to a degree that is granted to few bishops.” 9 likes
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