A whole panoply of racial witticisms may be gleaned from the pages of this scholarly book, such as the following: “Best explained that the Devil caused Ham to transgress the laws of inheritance and to indulge in carnal copulation. Thus his sons were marked with a black badge to symbolize loathsomeness and banished to the cursed and degenerate voids of Africa, where they lived as idolaters, witches, drunkards, sodomites; and enchanters.” Particularly interesting is the amount of space devoted to the descriptions of the peoples of the earth by the Italian Giovanni Florio (1553-1625) whose book bore the curious title First Fruits, and has a kind word for all: “The Ethiopians are a certaine people of Caria, they are simple, foule, and slaves; the Carthaginians are false and deceivers; those of Babylon, are malicious; and the corrupted Persians are gluttonous and drunkardes; the Cicilians are very niggards, yet faithful; those of Caspia are cruel; they of Lesbia, filthy; the Scithians lawlesse; the Corinthians, fornicatours; the Boctians, very rude; the Simerians, very beastly…” and so on. Hannaford’s book is well researched and well written, and offers more than enough rare and entertaining material to satisfy either the most ardent racist or anti-racist. Most scholarly books of this type are dry and insipid, yet this particular offering is an exception to the general rule.
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University
Paperback: 448 pages