A Natural History of the Senses

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A Natural History of the Senses
Language English
Publisher Vintage Books
Publication date
ISBN 0679735666

The Great Affair
The great affair, the love affair with life,
is to live as variously as possible,
to groom one's curiosity like a high-spirited thoroughbred,
climb aboard, and gallop over the thick, sun-struck hills every day..
It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery,
but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.

- Diane Ackerman, "found poetry" from A Natural History of the Senses [1]

A Natural History of the Senses is a 1990 non-fiction book by American author, poet, and naturalist Diane Ackerman. In this book, Ackerman examines both the science of how the different senses work, and the varied means by which different cultures have sought to stimulate the senses.[2] The book was the inspiration for the five-part Nova miniseries Mystery of the Senses (1995) in which Ackerman appeared as the presenter.[3]

“What is most amazing is not how our senses span distance or cultures, but how they span time. Our senses connect us intimately to the past, connect us in ways that most of our cherished ideas never could.”


  1. ^ The Great Affair Archived June 14, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Broyard, Anatole (July 29, 1990). "An Athlete of Perception". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ Goodman, Walter (February 18, 1995). "Television Review; Learning About the Senses: Even a Roach Can Enjoy". The New York Times. 

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