Written by the author of "The Embarrassment of Riches" and "Citizens", this book is about man's search for his cultural origins in the landscape which surrounds him, a search which is as old as civilization itself. Forests, rivers, mountains, islands - what meanings have men invested in them, and how have they in turn shaped men's imaginations? ...
Written by the author of "The Embarrassment of Riches" and "Citizens", this book is about man's search for his cultural origins in the landscape which surrounds him, a search which is as old as civilization itself. Forests, rivers, mountains, islands - what meanings have men invested in them, and how have they in turn shaped men's imaginations? For example, in five opening chapters, Schama shows how each of the great European cultures imagined their woodlands in ways which spoke to their collective needs. In Poland, the last great primeval forest in Europe, the woods represented liberty against the oppression of Russia and Germany. In Germany, they represented the shrine of the Teutonic spirit. In England, justice, the "King's Peace" under the greenwood. In France, order. In America, among the glades of the giant redwoods, the oldest living things in the world, the possibility of making a heaven on Earth.
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Publishers Weekly, 1995-03-06 In an enormously rich, labyrinthine survey, Columbia University humanities professor Schama, author of prize-winning books on the French Revolution (Citizens) and Dutch culture (The Embarrassment of Riches), explores the role of landscape in myth, art and culture. Full of wondrous and forgotten lore, his mind-expanding study links the Egyptian myth of Osiris, sacrified king-god of the Nile, to pagan traditions of the sacred stream, Christian baptism and modern images of the fertile, fatal river. He follows woodlands-based myths of utopian primitivism from Tacitus through German Romanticism, the work of contemporary painter Anselm Kiefer and the militant nationalism that culminated in Hitler. Ranging freely over Western literature, history, art and mythology, Schama examines Mount Rushmore as an icon of democracy, unfenced suburban lawns as symbols of social solidarity, Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers in Rome, Sir Walter Raleigh's journey to Guiana, Thoreau's meditations at Walden Pond, Swiss climber Horace Benedict de Saussure's ascent of Mount Blanc in 1787. Arguing that the boundaries between the wild and the cultivated are more flexible than is commonly assumed, this rewarding synthesis maps an uncharted geography of the imagination. Illustrations. 40,000 first printing. (Apr.)
Publishers Weekly, 1996-09-30 Historian Schama explores the roles that have been played by landscapes in myth, art and culture. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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