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For The Love Of Animals

by Kathryn Shevelow
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
  • Publishing date: 24/06/2008
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9780805080902
  • ISBN: 0805080902

Synopsis

The engaging story of how an unlikely group of extraordinary people laid the foundation for the legal protection of animals


In eighteenth-century England—where cockfighting and bullbaiting drew large crowds, and the abuse of animals was routine—the idea of animal protection was dismissed as laughably radical. But as pets became more common, human attitudes toward animals evolved steadily. An unconventional duchess defended their intellect in her writings. A gentleman scientist believed that animals should be treated with compassion. And with the concentrated efforts of an eccentric Scots barrister and a flamboyant Irishman, the lives of beasts—and, correspondingly, men and women—began to change.


Kathryn Shevelow, a respected eighteenth-century scholar, gives us the dramatic story of the bold reformers who braved attacks because they sympathized with the plight of creatures everywhere. More than just a history, this is an eye-opening exploration into how our feelings toward animals reveal our ideas about ourselves, God, mercy, and nature. Accessible and lively, For the Love of Animals is a captivating cultural narrative that takes us into the lives of animals—and into the minds of humans—during some of history’s most fascinating times.

Kathryn Shevelow, a specialist in eighteenth-century British literature and culture, is an award-winning professor at the University of California in San Diego. She is the author of Charlotte: Being a True Account of an Actress’s Flamboyant Adventures in Eighteenth-Century London’s Wild and Wicked Theatrical World and Women and Print Culture. She lives in Solana Beach, California.

In eighteenth-century England—where cockfighting and bullbaiting drew large crowds, and the abuse of animals was routine—the idea of animal protection was dismissed as laughably radical. But as pets became more common, human attitudes toward animals evolved steadily. An unconventional duchess defended their intellect in her writings. A gentleman scientist believed that animals should be treated with compassion. And with the concentrated efforts of an eccentric Scots barrister and a flamboyant Irishman, the lives of beasts—and, correspondingly, men and women—began to change.

Kathryn Shevelow, a respected eighteenth-century scholar, gives us the dramatic story of the bold reformers who braved attacks because they sympathized with the plight of creatures everywhere. More than just a history, this is an eye-opening exploration into how our feelings toward animals reveal our ideas about ourselves, God, mercy, and nature. Accessible and lively, For the Love of Animals is a captivating cultural narrative that takes us into the lives of animals—and into the minds of humans—during some of history’s most fascinating times.

"Shevelow's passionate and lively book explores the cultural role of animals in 18th and early 19th century England, chronicles Martin's odyssey to protect them and culminates in the passage of the bill and the SPCA's founding. It is a fascinating story . . . Shevelow's book shows how far we've come in terms of animal protection, and how far we have to go."—Michael O'Donnell, San Francisco Chronicle 

"Chances are that as you read these words you are in the company of one or more domestic animals: a dog or a cat most likely, but perhaps a parakeet or even a pot-bellied pig. Indeed as I write, I have at my feet two dachshunds, Sophie and Clifford, snoozing away on their tuffet, and somewhere in the apartment lurks Wayne, the alley cat, who honors me with his presence when—and only when—he jolly well feels like it. When my wife is at home we are a household of five, and at times it can be exceedingly difficult to determine who, exactly, owns whom. There is nothing new about this, which is one of the many useful points made by Kathryn Shevelow in this exceptionally interesting history of the animal protection movement in 18th and 19th century England . . . For the Love of Animals is exemplary in every respect. Shevelow, who teaches 18th-century British literature and culture at the University of California at San Diego, obviously has strong feelings about her subject, but she has not written a jeremiad. She is scrupulous in her research, fair to all participants in the ongoing debate, and writes eminently readable prose. It is a special bonus that she has rescued Richard Martin from oblivion and given him the respect he so clearly deserves"—Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post Book World (cover review)

"In this fascinating history of the animal-rights movement, Kathryn Shevelow captures the unique relationship between the advocates—such characters as the outspoken 17th century duchess and the 19th century Irish M. P. nicknamed 'Humanity Dick'—and the animals they fought for. She traces the movement's growth from its roots in the quirky aristocracy to the clergy and the people, showing how compassion became a question of justice. Philosopher Jeremy Bentham captured the new sense of kinship with animals: 'The question is not, Can they reason? Nor, Can they talk? But, Can they suffer?' Surely, understanding the transformation in our thinking about animals illumines our understanding of human evolution—from survival to stewardship."—Los Angeles Times 

“Shevelow is to be commended for reaching into this particular historical cesspool . . . Her book may inspire others to stand up to injustice."—Rebecca Jones, Rocky Mountain News

"For the Love of Animals provides a perceptive and eye-opening look at how the British people developed a sense of obligation toward the defenseless creatures in their care. Through vivid anecdotes, Shevelow, who is a professor of British literature at the University of California at San Diego, brings readers on a tour of Britain’s massive contradictions and paints memorable portraits of the motley crew that invented the animal-rights movement . . . Many of the stories of animal abuse in For the Love of Animals are disturbing, and Shevelow helpfully advises readers which chapters they can skip to avoid them. Happily, there is also much to appreciate, including tales of the activists who spoke up despite endless ridicule . . . Shevelow livens her tale with stories of Europe’s obsessions with half-human monsters and complex mechanical animals. She also finds plenty of unusual characters among the reformers, including an early vegetarian who still managed to be fat as a house and Richard 'Hair-Trigger Martin,' an Irish leader who challenged a man to a duel over the cold-blooded murder of a gentle wolfhound that didn’t even belong to him . . . This book is thought-provoking and inspiring, reminding readers how much has—and hasn’t—changed over the centuries. The animals treasured by so many of us continue to fall victim to cruelty and abuse. But thanks to the efforts of those who withstood withering attacks from naysayers, justice and generosity are forever on their side."—Randy Dotinga, The Christian Science Monitor 

"In recent years, there has been a substantial increase in concern for four-legged animals, centering on efforts to prevent the ominous wave of extinctions. This naturally emphasizes wild animals and draws attention to species that most people have rarely or never seen. But compassion for animals has existed longer when it comes to more familiar beasts, the pets and working animals that surround us.


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  • For the love of animals
    From Amazon

    Book is well-written. Very interesting history about animal protection movement. Anyone who is has a serious interest in animal welfare will want to add it to their collection.

  • animals
    From Amazon

    I was just too empathetic to finish. If you have the fortitude you will enjoy it.

  • Wonderful
    From Amazon

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is a fascinating, disturbing, moving look into the history & rise of the animal protection movement in 18th century & early 19th century Britain. The author is expert in saving this tale from what could be a very dry, tedious history--and infuses it with a lively cast of characters & their stories, from an outspoken, philosophizing Duchess, to a French lawyer who represented rats on trial, to a Lord's beloved pet leeches, and a poet's odes to his cat. She also includes poetry, law, social history, paintings and sermons to further give the reader a fully dimensional scope of this movement & the culture it emerged from. Her careful research also keeps it from being overly mushy & preachy---you come away with a nuanced understanding of the shift in people's views & relationships with animals, the horrific condition of animals which spawned some of these shifts in thinking, and how these changes became translated into bills proposed in parliament & eventually, law. That aside, it's just an incredibly moving story. It's a book that makes you think, both philosophically & practically, about animal protection & rights long after you've finished reading, how they relate to the same issues today, and you come out cheering on behalf of stormy Irish politicians & preachers who dared speak & write on behalf of "brute" animals to the ridicule of their peers. It also reveals the smaller, but no less courageous, acts of many and the animals who inspired them.

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