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Epilogue

Petkeeping's importance today is anecdotally obvious even in the pages of the Parisian telephone book. The almost seven hundred thousand dogs currently kept in Paris are supported by anthropomorphic businesses such as Le Home du chien, a canine beauty parlor ironically located on the rue Claude Bernard and the Club vacances des animaux that makes obvious reference to patterns of leisure in today's mass culture. Dozens of other shops advertise haute couture, basic clothing, accessories, and the sale of purebred puppies.1 And as in many other major Western dries, cats are becoming even more popular than dogs. The ubiquity of pets and the universality of petkeeping culture today should not blind us to the novelty and importance of the system's nineteenth-century beginning.

Petkeeping was so deeply embedded in class as to make the two systems—class and petkeeping—almost indistinguishable to contemporaries. To speak of petkeeping in the nineteenth century was to refer to bourgeois culture. To understand the inventions of petkeeping is for twentieth-century readers to grasp how much class itself was a cultural response to modernity, to the nineteenth century, to the postrevolutionary era.

The experience of modernity—the tangibles of nineteenth-century life—was expressed aesthetically in modernism. In high culture, as Debora Silverman points out with respect to art nouveau in the 1890s, its shift from "technological monumentality" to "organic interiority" was "not an anti-modernist reaction." Modernism in art was deeply informed by the past (as well as by new psychological styles).2 So too was the modernism that petkeepers inscribed in their ordinary lives. Petkeeping (read bourgeois culture) borrowed freely from supposed ancien


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régime norms and poignantly set noble values against the individualism of the nineteenth century.

The bourgeoisie adopted aspects of its culture from the eighteenth-century aristocracy. It more dramatically (and appositely) described itself in opposition to the working class, a group that was hovering in mid-century on the point of definition, as Louis Chevalier argues with eccentric brilliance.3 The working classes were the dangerous classes, violent, sexual, and irrational. Their anti-values were projected onto pets: cleanliness, order, and rationality marked bourgeois petkeeping.

The dichotomy of nineteenth-century class was only apparently fixed, however. Qualifies banished from bourgeois life found their way back into the modern personality, strikingly notable in the rabies scare and the anti-vivisection movements. The work of the imagination is key to our understanding of this century. The unstable, complicated transformarion of eighteenth-century rationalism to late nineteenth-century modernism was most eloquently articulated, perhaps, by the century's trained elite. But in the private as well as the public spaces of nineteenth-century ideas were the ruins of Enlightenment thought.


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