Picking up the Scent
This introductory chapter considers the place of scent in sense history and its emergence in more recent literature. In addition, the chapter looks at the myriad ways of smelling, as olfaction has been lately regarded as one of the most delicate chemical tests we possess. Moreover, although to some extent smell remains a mystery, the chapter emphasizes that scents have always been an integral part of peoples' lives, possessing distinctive and often shared meanings. For example, odor has been intimately associated with notions of identity. Although denigrated and regarded with suspicion, smell was relied upon by members of European society whenever other forms of knowledge were less forthcoming.
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