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“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 “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 humanity’s long love affair with the cat. As delightful as it is learned, Tiger in the House explores science, art, and history to assemble a treasury of cat lore, while Van Vechten’s sumptuous baroque prose makes every page an inexhaustible pleasure. (Beware: French phrases are not translated).


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“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 “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 humanity’s long love affair with the cat. As delightful as it is learned, Tiger in the House explores science, art, and history to assemble a treasury of cat lore, while Van Vechten’s sumptuous baroque prose makes every page an inexhaustible pleasure. (Beware: French phrases are not translated).

30 review for The Tiger in the House: A Cultural History of the Cat

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sketchbook

    "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, curio "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, curious, have long memories." Yes. Like writers. Man can be master of a dog, he adds, but never a cat. The dog remains, mentally, a jackal. Though he may live among "fragipani he will still love the smell of carrion." CVV refs Cagliostro, Grandville, Poe, Octave Mirbeau. He made me aware of Mexican artist Adolfo Best-Maugard. Whooo? He painted a white cat on cushions that reminded CVV of Tallulah Bankhead. Now, that's esoterica.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Esteban Galarza

    La idea es excelente pero la escritura se torna caótica y desprolija. Se torna difícil distinguir un capítulo de otro debido a la infinita enumeración de ejemplos y eso como única técnica de escritura. Faltaría darle un marco a tal catarata de información, lo que es una pena porque Van Vechten demuestra que investigó a fondo el tema

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mary Mojica

    Como amante de los gatos, siempre quiero saber más y más de ellos. Esta historia cultural cubre varios aspectos de la evolución del amor/odio de los seres humanos por este increíble, bello y elegante animal.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Chöw Josefin

    Esperaba otra cosa. Los primeros capítulos pueden ser interesantes, pero a medida que va avanzando el libro parece una compilación de citas y nombres de personajes que tuvieron gatos, los adoran o simplemente los rechazan. Se torna denso.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Sammis

    The Tiger in the House by Carl Van Vechten is a collection of essays on the different ways the cat has infiltrated our lives. They are broken down into topics like arts, music, law, theater, and so forth. http://pussreboots.com/blog/2019/comm... The Tiger in the House by Carl Van Vechten is a collection of essays on the different ways the cat has infiltrated our lives. They are broken down into topics like arts, music, law, theater, and so forth. http://pussreboots.com/blog/2019/comm...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    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. 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.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ange

    Muy interesante pero para mi gusto demasiados términos y personajes que no conocía pero fue una aventura leerlo

  8. 5 out of 5

    Arancha Ch. Gonzalez

    Para mi, que soy adoradora de los gatos (y de todos los animales, la verdad), ha supuesto una auténtica delicia de lectura (exceptuando el capítulo 3, relativo a los enemigos de los gatos y sus prácticas, que me ha puesto enferma). Habla de la figura de los mininos en la historia, el arte, la literatura, la música, el folklore y un amplio etc. Las grandes personalidades que no podían vivir sin tener a su lado un gatito y todas las cualidades buenas y malas de los “tigres de casa”, como los llama Para mi, que soy adoradora de los gatos (y de todos los animales, la verdad), ha supuesto una auténtica delicia de lectura (exceptuando el capítulo 3, relativo a los enemigos de los gatos y sus prácticas, que me ha puesto enferma). Habla de la figura de los mininos en la historia, el arte, la literatura, la música, el folklore y un amplio etc. Las grandes personalidades que no podían vivir sin tener a su lado un gatito y todas las cualidades buenas y malas de los “tigres de casa”, como los llama. Sin duda, un cinco de cinco y reelectura segura.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Leslie Loayza

    La idea me encantó, la portada ni que decir, sin embrago, juzgué demasiado pronto al libro por la tapa. Es una Biblia sobre los gatos, sí, está rico en información, por supuesto, hay de todo, desde datos curiosos hasta momentos históricos. Lo que quiero decir es que, esperaba algo más que información, mi amor por los gatos llenó mi cabeza de espectativas. No es mal libro, pero me duele decir que no me encantó.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    Yes, I have a love affair with cats--all cats--and this book just feeds my adoration.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cecilia Muñoz

    Me encontré "El tigre en la casa" en la Feria del Libro, en el stand de los libros bonitos y caros que nunca compraba... hasta ahora. Siempre he creído que los libros, como los gatos, llegan en el momento indicado y de nuevo, la casualidad, el destino o la fe me lo han demostrado: esta vez sí podía darme un lujo. Por eso cuando vi el subtítulo "Una historia cultural del gato", no dudé ni un momento. El libro debía ser mío. Como lo indica el subtítulo, este libro es un recorrido histórico acerca Me encontré "El tigre en la casa" en la Feria del Libro, en el stand de los libros bonitos y caros que nunca compraba... hasta ahora. Siempre he creído que los libros, como los gatos, llegan en el momento indicado y de nuevo, la casualidad, el destino o la fe me lo han demostrado: esta vez sí podía darme un lujo. Por eso cuando vi el subtítulo "Una historia cultural del gato", no dudé ni un momento. El libro debía ser mío. Como lo indica el subtítulo, este libro es un recorrido histórico acerca de la influencia del gato en diversas áreas de la cultura humana. Éste es magnífico para los amantes de la historia, los datos curiosos y los felinos, pero puede volverse pesado, especialmente considerando que los referentes culturales del autor (que escribió este libro antes de 1920) están muy alejados del lector promedio actual. Así que uno debe decidirse: me hundo en este océano de artistas (en general se mencionan ciertos de artistas y algunas otras figuras públicas antiguas) desconocidos, sin importarme que mi cultura general no tenga conocimiento de éstas, con lápiz a la mano, o boto la lectura y la tildo de aburrida y tediosa. Me decidí por la primera. Creo que puede ser un excelente punto de partida para buscar un poco más de todo aquello que me llamó la atención, principalmente autores, historias y pinturas. Otro punto a considerar es que Van Vechten no se queda corto con nada. Y eso incluye descripciones terribles de los horrores que los gatos han soportado durante siglos a causa del ser humano. Llega un momento en que o se tiene estómago de acero o se detiene un momento la lectura para soportar la remembranza de tanta crueldad. Hubo un instante en que incluso consideré si acaso el autor habría disfrutado describir las torturas varías que sufrían los gatos en tiempos remotos, pero me inclino a creer que simplemente buscó rigor histórico. Qué cruel puede llegar a ser éste. Al final le he puesto cinco estrellas porque una investigación de este calibre se lo merece. Ahora sería interesante descubrir o aventurarnos a una nueva pesquisa de la figura del gato durante el siglo XXI y lo que llevamos de éste.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Octavio Villalpando

    Tal y como me sucedió hace poco con mi lectura de "Mi perra Tulip" de J.R. Ackerley, el balance final que me ha dejado este libro es un poco agridulce. No quiero decir que no me haya gustado, ¡por el contrario! es solo que la perspectiva de lo que nos presenta es a veces difícil de digerir por el tiempo que ha transcurrido desde su edición original, en el año de 1920. Desde luego que muchas cosas han cambiado desde entonces, pautas de comportamiento habituales para con los gatos en aquellos tiem Tal y como me sucedió hace poco con mi lectura de "Mi perra Tulip" de J.R. Ackerley, el balance final que me ha dejado este libro es un poco agridulce. No quiero decir que no me haya gustado, ¡por el contrario! es solo que la perspectiva de lo que nos presenta es a veces difícil de digerir por el tiempo que ha transcurrido desde su edición original, en el año de 1920. Desde luego que muchas cosas han cambiado desde entonces, pautas de comportamiento habituales para con los gatos en aquellos tiempo, el día de hoy son inadmisibles, y eso es lo que hace que en varios pasajes uno se pueda sentir incluso molesto con lo relatado. Si conseguimos dejar eso de lado, lo que queda es un libro mucho muy interesante para los aficionados a los gatos. El autor destila amor por ellos y sin duda izo un muy buen trabajo tratando de esquematizar lo que se sabía de ellos cuando lo escribió. El resultado de su investigación nos lo presenta en una serie de ensayos donde se explora la figura del gato bajo diferentes perspectivas: el gato en la pintura, el gato en el teatro, el gato en la música, el gato en el folkore, etcétera. Todo salpicado con algunas anécdotas muy sabrosas tanto de los mismos gatos del autor como de los de otras figuras célebres del mundo de las artes y de la sociedad de su tiempo. Bajo esta perspectiva, realmente vale mucho la pena su lectura. Contiene un montón de curiosidades relativas a los felinos y es todo un viaje para quienes los amamos, excepto por lo ya antes mencionado.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Corvera

    Es un libro escrito por un amante de gatos. La edición es preciosa y viene ilustrada. En algunas partes se hace un poco pesada la lectura, pero se entiende siendo un libro redactado en los años veinte. Muy recomendado, es un libro que describe a los gatos desde distintos puntos de vista: gatos en el folklore, el teatro, la ficción la poesía...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sally

    One is permitted to assume an attitude of placid indifference in the matter of elephants, cockatoos, H.G. Wells, Sweden, roast beef, Piccini, and even Mormonism, but in the matter of cats it seems necessary to take a firm stand. The cat himself insists upon this; he invariably inspires strong feelings. - p. 84

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ana María

    Con pasajes más entretenidos que otros, es un recorrido por la vida con los gatos que enternece, informa y merece ser actalizado. Claro que soy una amante de la especie, y entonces esto puede resultar muy subjetivo...

  16. 5 out of 5

    Becky Gomez

    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.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dvora

    I really wanted to like it. But. It was too glorious and the sumptuous baroque prose was too much for me. So were all the long excerpts and quotes in French that I couldn't understand. Every page was not an inexhaustible pleasure, it was simply exhausting. I found my eyes were moving but I wasn't getting anywhere although I did arrive at page 53 before I finally gave up. I really wanted to like it. But. It was too glorious and the sumptuous baroque prose was too much for me. So were all the long excerpts and quotes in French that I couldn't understand. Every page was not an inexhaustible pleasure, it was simply exhausting. I found my eyes were moving but I wasn't getting anywhere although I did arrive at page 53 before I finally gave up.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mayu Vargas

    Mi último libro del año! 🖤, lamento decirlo pero no me gustó, el tema es muy bueno y podría ser genial...de no ser porque está mal escrito y hace que el libro se haga eterno, yo lo recomendaría a los fanáticos de los gatos, la edición del libro es bella, y tiene unas ilustraciones muy bonitas.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Golden

    Will keep you reading until the late hours.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kerly

    3.5

  21. 5 out of 5

    Journey

    Never a dull moment.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lawrence

    Erudite, funny, might seem a bit dated. I enjoyed it!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Madeleine

    Intellectually speaking, it's probably not a masterpiece. But I like cats, so.. Intellectually speaking, it's probably not a masterpiece. But I like cats, so..

  24. 4 out of 5

    Layton ratings

    I like nonfictions and this fits the bill.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Elisa Martínez

    Un exhaustivo compendio sobre el gato en la cultura.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Niffer

    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 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's very obviously a product of its time. The chapters in this book are largely long lists of examples of the cat in various settings: the cat in art, the cat in literature, the cat in history. There's lots of footnotes and a huge bibliography. There are lots of references to things that the author expects the reader to know--things like "...and I don't need to share with you the story of ____..." The first chapter, and a later chapter on poetry, has huge chunks of quotes that are in French--again, I would guess the author is writing for an audience that he assumes knows French. Many of the sweeping statements he makes about the personality of cats, or the "science" of cats, are also very obviously a product of the time or driven by the existing Zeitgeist of the time, etc. Overall I think this book would be most useful to someone today who was trying to research cats in culture. It's not a primary source, but I think it would be a good starting point to direct someone to other sources that could be very useful. For the average cat lover, it might be an interesting glimpse of cats in culture, but it's not the be all and end all best book out there.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Deb

    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. 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...not even to cat lovers.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jose Miguel

    Ël tigre en la casa¨ es un libro escrito por Carl Van Vechten publicado por primera vez en 1920 y que desde entonces cuenta ya con varias publicaciones en inglés. La editorial Sigilo le ha encomendado a Andrea Palet asumir la tarea de traducir este libro por primera vez al español y el resultado es impecable. Una colección de deliciosos datos en relación a los felinos, escrita con humor y acompañada de las bellas ilustraciones de Krysthopher Woods.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bill

    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.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Keena

    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.

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