Guinea pigs are one of the world’s most popular pets—small, friendly, easy to care for, and unbearably cute. We have felt this way for a long time: guinea pigs were first domesticated in 5000 B.C.E. Since then they have inspired historical figures ranging from the scientist William Harvey to the artists Jan Brueghel and Beatrix Potter. In this book, Dorothy Yamamoto offers the first in-depth treatment of this cuddly little creature over the several millennia it has been a part of our lives.
Yamamoto examines the role guinea pigs have today—as pets—but also looks back to less loving times when guinea pigs were put to more direct use. She discusses them as a crucial sacrificial offering to Incan gods, as the entrée in the Cusco Cathedral’s painting of The Last Supper, and as a highly favored experimental subject—for which they have become the quintessential metaphor for anyone in the same unfortunate circumstance. Threading her account with examples from the guinea pig’s many appearances in literature and art, Yamamoto reveals the personality and cultural importance of an animal we have always wanted to keep nearby, providing a fun and unique book for any animal lover. Published in Association with the Science Museum, London
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Dorothy Yamamoto is a freelance writer and poet. She is coeditor of Animals on the Agenda and author of the monograph, The Boundaries of the Human in Medieval English Literature, and the collection of poems, Landscape with a Hundred Bridges. She lives in Oxford, UK.Review:
“Yamamoto brilliantly explores guinea pigs’ cultural history, too, from Beatrix Potter to Tales of the Riverbank, from box office hit G-Force to the Star Trek classic episode ‘The Trouble with Tribbles,’ which ultimately draws its plot from an old story about you-know-what. This is a fascinating book about a fascinating creature, although you may have to steel yourself to read the chapters on foodstuffs and research.” (Eastern Daily Press)
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