In Finland, Ashenburg notes, government ministers often deliberate in the sauna. But I was so entranced with this strange new skill of reading that I gladly inhaled all its prescriptions about teeth-brushing and the five food groups. Bernard said, where all stink, no one smells. More often, particularly in the seventeenth century, water was avoided altogether, except for a cursory washing of hands. Again, I was re-reading, but I needed to refresh my memory for something I was writing. The modern North American, the seventeenth-century Frenchman and the Roman were each convinced that cleanliness was an important marker of civility and that his way was the royal road to a properly groomed body. Katherine Ashenburg takes on such fascinating questions as these in , her spirited chronicle of the West's ambivalent relationship with the washed and unwashed body.
It was written in a way that children could easily understand but that adults would also find engaging. Now that people were confiding their washing eccentricities—usually on the side of less scrupulosity rather than more—I was amused. The neglected old man has a bath, which once again works its magic: Athena stood by his side and put fullness into his limbs, so that he seemed stronger and bigger than before. Dozens of charming illustrations distinguish a book notable for its engaging design as well as its illuminating content. Adapted from her non-fiction book for adult readers, The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History, All the Dirt takes the young reader's fascination with the grimy and hilarious and turns it into an intriguing lesson about history, cultural differences, and how concepts we might take for granted are in fact socially constructed. In Clean, Katherine Ashenburg tells the weird, zigzagging story of our most intimate rituals through lively, heavily-illustrated chronological chapters. Now people began to find the sea sublime, for the same reason—because it frightened them.
I can see the appeal of this type of books: most boys love gross things! Not just for kids either! All the Dirt is full of fascinating facts about the art of cleanliness throughout the history of humanity. So I may read that. This book was not nearly as gross as I had anticipated it might be! What could be more routine and apparently banal than taking up soap and water and washing yourself? My problem with this book is that it was neither fish nor fowl. European nobles of the 16th century considered face washing unusual enough to chronicle in letters - which it probably was in an era when an upper-class mother picking lice out of her child's hair was considered an image suitable for framing. Most ancient civilizations matter-of-factly acknowledged that, in the right circumstances, a gamy, earthy body odour can be a powerful aphrodisiac. Napoleon and Josephine were fastidious for their time in that they both took a long, hot, daily bath. I actually learned quite a bit about the history of public baths, and the effect of advertising on personal hygiene, which I found intriguing enough to put her ad This title is nominated for the 2018 Hackmatack award in the non-fiction category.
Originally reviewed on Kid Lit Reviews. There is no single obvious reason for that omission. If nothing else, Ashenburg has compiled a catalog of bodily putrescence chilling to those of us who love nothing more than a boiling shower with gobs of expensive Portuguese soap. She describes herself as a lapsed Dickensian and as someone who has had a different career every decade. If anything, it makes an American jealous of the fun, sociable, communal bathing cultures that still thrive in Japan, Eastern Europe and Scandinavia. The surreptitious way people revealed their deviations to me indicates how thoroughly we have been conditioned: to risk smelling like a human is a misdemeanour, and the goal is to smell like an exotic fruit mango, papaya, passion fruit or a cookie vanilla, coconut, ginger.
And yet cleanliness, or the lack of it, is intimately connected to ideas as large as spirituality and sexuality, and historical events that include plagues, the Civil War, and the discovery of germs. It might work better as a physical book, since I was reading an e version. At least that was the point of view espoused by John Wesley in 18th century England. While the fire was shooting up all round the belly of the copper, and the water was growing warm … the housewife told him his bath was ready. I would recommend this book as a nonfiction to grade schoolers, teachers and parents. Benjamin Franklin said that to understand the people of a country, he needed only to visit its graveyards.
For their part, Indians and Asians considered Westerners puzzlingly dirty. Readers will discover how the definition of cleanliness in one part of the world may differ radically from another. For me, the medieval interlude of cleanliness and its end were startling and absorbing news. For many in the modern West, few activities demand more solitude than washing our naked bodies. The outsiders usually err on the side of dirtiness.
Edward Gibbon, the eighteenth-century chronicler of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, was convinced that hot baths were one of the principal reasons Rome weakened and fell. The chapters then progress to the perceived future. Now that these places are usually smoke-free, we shrink back affronted when we enter a room where someone has been smoking. More than the most lyrical copywriter extolling the wonders of a modern bathroom, Homer stresses the transforming power of the bath—partly because The Odyssey is a tall tale but partly because travellers in the wilds of ancient Greece did no doubt look remarkably better after soaking in hot water. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, pitched his Primitive Physick: or, an Easy and Natural Method of Curing Most Diseases at the fold level. One hundred thousands Londoners died in the Great Plague of 1665.
Kids will think this is a gross book—a terrific declaration from middle age kids. I hadn't known everything that was mentioned about bathing and otherwise keeping clean. In their gymnasiums, the Greeks bathed as a necessary conclusion to exercise. The nose is adaptable, and teachable. Her latest book The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History, is a spirited chronicle of the West's ambivalent relationship with the washed and unwashed body. For the modern, middle-class North American, clean means that you shower and apply deodorant each and every day without fail. Brides, and often grooms, from ancient Greece to modern-day Africa, have been given a celebratory prenuptial bath; young women in Renaissance Germany made a bath shirt for their husbands-to-be, a token of this custom.