Peter Gay

  • Breeding Is Fundamental

    In the course of a long career, I have read many books and reviewed a sizable number of them, but I have never encountered a title quite so felicitous as that of Jenny Davidson’s Breeding. Its subtitle, A Partial History of the Eighteenth Century, is equally ambiguous: The word breeding embraces the work of nature as well as that of nurture in the making of humans; partial is synonymous, on the one hand, with partisan or one-sided and, on the other, with imperfect or incomplete. These are the two double meanings Davidson explores, only to conclude that during the eighteenth century, her special