Ape to Apollo is the first book to follow the development in the eighteenth century of the idea of race as it shaped and was shaped by the idea of aesthetics. Twelve full-color illustrations and sixty-five black-and-white illustrations from publications and artists of the day allow the reader to see eighteenth-century concepts of race translated into images. Human "varieties" are marked in such illustrations by exaggerated differences, with emphases on variations from the European ideal and on the characteristics that allegedly divided the races. In surveying the idea of human variety before "race" was introduced by Linneaus as a scientific category, David Bindman considers the work of many German and British thinkers, including J. F. Blumenbach, Georg and Johann Reinhold Forster, and Immanuel Kant, as well as Georges Louis Leclerc Buffon and Pieter Camper. Bindman believes that such representations, and the theories that supported them, helped give rise to the racism of the modern era. He writes, "It may be objected that some features of modern racism predate the Enlightenment, and already existed in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; certainly there was deep prejudice, but that, I would argue, is not the same as racism, which must have as a foundation a theory of race to justify the exercise of prejudice."
"David Bindman, an art historian, has made a valuable survey of a complex and extremely sensitive subject."--Keith Miller, Times Literary Supplement, December 6, 2002, No. 5201 "With so much written on Darwin, Spencer, and their ilk, this survey of 18th-century aesthetic thought in relation to 'racial science' and physical beauty is a welcomed addition to the growing scholarship concerning race. . . . His discussion of everything from travel literature to phrenological studies shows how ethics, biological nationalism, climatic theory, polygenesis, and the abolitionist movement were all part of the intellectual stew that produced the often-contradictory ideas of race, ethnicity, and nationhood during this period. . . . Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through professionals."--K. N. Pinder, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Choice Magazine, Dec. 2003. "Ape to Apollo, a phrase referring to the illustrations of skulls and profiles that indicate a chain of being from apes to the classical Greeks, contains information and analyses previously not published and provides the reader with an interesting and well-illustrated, informed, knowledgeable, and wide-ranging book on the history of aesthetics and race."--Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, Summer 2004 "Among those aspects of eighteenth-century thought that have not received the critical attention they deserve, the relationship between aesthetics and race theory stands out as particularly regrettable. . . . Bindman's text should be welcomed for addressing the subject of race and aesthetics head-on. Handsomely illustrated, the text is a clear and thoughtful sketch of the relevant literature of the period."--Steven DeCaroli, British Journal of Eighteenth-Century Studies (2004) "Bindman's main text is both scholarly and recreationally readable . . . as well as rich in original information."--James W. Jamieson, Mankind Quarterly, 45:3, Spring 2005
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