A scholar, psychoanalyst, and cultural critic explores the multifaceted role dogs play in our world in this charming bestiary of dogs from literature, lore, and life.
While gradually unveiling her eight-year love affair with her French bulldog, Grisby, Mikita Brottman ruminates on the singular bond between dogs and humans. Why do prevailing attitudes warn us against loving our pet “too much”? Is her relationship with Grisby nourishing or dysfunctional, commonplace or unique? Challenging the assumption that there’s something repressed and neurotic about those deeply connected to a dog, she turns her keen eye on the many ways in which dog is the mirror of man.
The Great Grisby is organized into twenty-six alphabetically arranged chapters, each devoted to a particular human-canine union drawn from history, art, philosophy, or literature. Here is Picasso’s dachshund Lump; Freud’s chow Yofi; Bill Sikes’s mutt Bull’s Eye in Oliver Twist; and Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s spaniel Flush, whose biography was penned by Virginia Woolf. There are royal dogs, like Prince Albert’s greyhound Eos, and dogs cherished by authors, like Thomas Hardy’s fox terrier, Wessex. Brottman’s own beloved Grisby serves as an envoy for sniffing out these remarkable companions.
Quirky and delightful, and peppered with incisive personal reflections and black-and-white sketches portraying a different dog and its owner drawn by the enormously talented Davina “Psamophis” Falcão, The Great Grisby reveals how much dogs have to teach us about empathy, happiness, love—and what it means to be human.
About the Author
Mikita Brottman, PhD, is an Oxford-educated scholar, author, and psychoanalyst. She has written seven previous books, including The Great Grisby: Two Thousand Years of Literary, Royal, Philosophical, and Artistic Dog Lovers and Their Exceptional Animals, and is a professor of humanities at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland, and continues with her weekly reading group at Jessup Correctional Institution.
“Utterly delightful and beautifully written…the greatest pleasure of this wonderful book is reading about the author’s love for Grisby…Her descriptions of the two of them spending the day quietly at home is mesmerizing in its ability to remind us of the simple pleasure of hanging together, dog and person.” — Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, author of BEASTS and DOGS NEVER LIE ABOUT LOVE
“If THE GREAT GRISBY were a meal, it would satisfy (at last) even the hungriest of dogs, and the most discerning of passionate log lovers. No kibble, a feast. I devoured it in one savory bite.” — Abigail Thomas, author of A THREE DOG LIFE
“Brottman writes amusingly and often movingly of the relationships between dozens of writers and artists and their canine friends, along the way exploring her own devotion to Grisby, a charismatic if at times bumptious French bulldog…Brottman’s research is deep and her storytelling compelling.” — Boston Globe
“I have read thousands of books in my 81 years and this is the only one that has made me happy...learned, spritely.” — The Spectator
“Amazing… If you love animals and are an aficionado of dogs this is a wonderful look at the trials and tribulations of those in the past as they come to terms with the differing personalities of the pets they call their own.” — Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“Part history book and part memoir, THE GREAT GRISBY is a fascinating exploration of how dogs have changed people and the world in myriad ways.” — Shelf Awareness
“In her paeans to her pet, Brottman evokes the joys of dog ownership. … Avid dog lovers will relish the digressions into literature and history, as well as the assurance that the love between dog and human can be as deep as any other kind of love.” — Publishers Weekly
“More than just a collection of fun dog stories, Brottman’s book illuminates the symbiotic relationship between people and canines, offering insights into the human condition through the lens of our four-footed friends.” — Booklist
“Insightful and utterly fascinating …THE GREAT GRISBY is a rich and enthralling book about the powerful bond between humans and dogs.” — Temple Grandin, author of ANIMALS MAKE US HUMAN
“Filled with marvelous anecdotes and insights, The Great Grisby (named for the author’s beloved French bulldog) explores human-dog bonds in history, art, mythology and literature… lively.” — New York Times
“A history of smart, important women and men and their dogs…Incredibly touching…any reader who takes the time to put aside dog-book expectations will love it for the way it can both move you and challenge you…a life-affirming book for dog owners.” — Baltimore City Paper
“Ranging across a wealth of historical A-List dog lovers-both real and fictional-and their dogs, Brottman employs her training as an Oxford-educated scholar, critic and psychoanalyst to plumb the depths and breadth of this ancient friendship...thought-provoking.” — Bark Magazine
“An entertaining literary and historical romp through the world of dogs.” — Kirkus Reviews
“Unusual and remarkable…there are] more questions than answers, and yet somehow a sense of understanding, profound understanding, emerges from these queries. It seems to take a dog to bring us to this point of wordless wisdom…Highly recommended.” — VegetarianFriends.net
“A quirky, funny, scholarly romp of a book…chockfull of wonderful trivia and little-known tidbits…There was not one chapter that didn’t leave me smiling, laughing, or gasping in amazement.” — Booksforanimallovers.com
Purchase books and ebooks online
Keep track of your purchase history
Be the first to know about new books and events from The Ivy