[London, Paris]:: A Londres, et se trouve à Paris, Chez Pissot, 1776., 1776. // Three volumes (complete). 8vo. xvi, 415; viii, 365; viii, 336 pp. Half titles, title woodcut vignettes, head and tail-pieces. Original full mottled calf with decorative gilt-stamped spine, raised bands, marbled endpapers and edges; joints cracked but holding, head and tail worn with head portion missing on vol. 3, later shelf-sticker on spine foot. Ownership signature of "C. Francis, 1836" and rubber ink and blind-embossed stamps on first and last few pages (Harvard College Library, duplicate; Connecticut Theological Institute), including titles. Good. Rare. FIRST EDITION. At the time of publication Démeunier was just 25 years old. The sources of this work were not first-hand observations from personal travel or field work, for Démeunier had not traveled. Instead he worked as a translator of many travel books coming out in England at that time, from which he gathered this compilation. "Demeunier's attitude toward his own sources is paradoxical and fascinating: in his chapter devoted to 'Different sorts of foods,' he provides a long list of peoples of the world who have been said to be cannibals, along with careful references to the sources of his information. There are Mexicans, Peruvians, and many varieties of Africans" but most of the time (9 out of 10, according to Edna Lemay who studied Démeunier) he copied directly from travel sources in compiling his book. (Miller). Nevertheless, the book was successful and reissued in 1785 and again in 1786. Then in the 20th century his book came to light in the works of several other writers. Démeunier has the great honor of being called the father of social anthropology by Radcliffe-Brown (1958). In addition, he published a few other works in his time, for example, L'Amérique indépendante... was published as a separate volume of Démeunier's contributions to Charles Joseph Panckoucke's Encyclopédie méthodique published in 1784-1786, which had been corrected and debated in correspondence with Thomas Jefferson. Démeunier is thus considered one of the key figures in the organization of support for the American cause, as well as supporting the French Revolution. // When translated, the title reads, The spirit of the uses and customs of different peoples, or observations of travelers and historians. Diamond observes that writers of travel accounts "did not present their information in ways which allowed Démeunier to compare social systems; his materials were, so to speak, atomized, and he could only regroup usages. But, as his table of contents indicates, his work implies a certain conception of the internal unity of every social group which might have provided ethnographers with a complete framework of inquiry. Indeed, he sought to classify usages not according to their similarities or differences but according to their social functions….Man is primarily a being who subsists and perpetuates himself; therefore Démeunier first of all considers what and how he eats his food and his table manners; then the condition of women, forms of marriage, birth customs and education of children. Man is also a being who lives in a group; therefore it is appropriate to deal with the different parts of the social body-chiefs and sovereigns, warriors, masters and slaves, distinctions of rank and property. Man is a being with symbolically expressed relations which he regulates. … Démeunier mentions the different conceptions of beauty and adornment, of modesty; then he deals with domestic usages as well as penal laws and their administration. Ultimately, man is mortal, and the work ends with considerations on homicide, suicide, human sacrifice, sickness, medicine, death and funerals". // Diamond, Stanley. Anthropology: Ancestors and Heirs. Walter de Gruyter, 1980, pp. 48-50; Marienstras, Elise & Wulf, Naomi. French Translations and Reception of the Declaration of Independence. Retrieved online on Jan. 16, 2014; Miller, Christopher L. Blank Darkness: Africanist Discourse in French. University of Chicago Press, 1986. p. 191-2 footnotes; Radcliffe-Brown. "Precursors of Social Anthropology", reprinted in Method in social anthropology; selected essays. [Chicago]: University of Chicago Press, 1958. (Inventory #: LV2023)
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