Penguins, Pineapples and Pangolins


A Quite Interesting Book of the Year 2016

This book reveals nature through the eyes of those who first encountered it, gathering first impressions of exotic plants and creatures from across the globe. As well as being packed with gems - like the fact that in 17th-century India, mangoes were shaken up inside their skins and drunk as smoothies; or that pelicans' throats were once used as tobacco pouches - it's an exciting, firsthand insight into the mindsets, language and beliefs of our ancestors.

Product details

Can you remember seeing a giraffe for the first time? Tasting a pineapple? Touching a cactus? Probably not, because in these modern times everyone is very knowing – knowledge is at our fingertips and it can sometimes feel as if there is nothing new to discover. The awe and excitement from that moment has been lost because these objects and experiences have become ordinary to us.

But if we travel back in time a few hundred years, before the age of globalisation, people were encountering new foods, animals, plants, peoples and cultures for the first time as overseas trade routes opened up.

This book reflects the wonderment and curiosity of these new experiences. Based on the historical collections of the British Library, it uses extracts from a wide variety of sources to reveal the reactions and thoughts of Europeans as they visited new places, tasted new foods and encountered strange animals, peoples and plants for the first time.

Claire Cock-Starkey
British Library
Publication date
April 2016
192 pages

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