Farther Shore: A Natural History of Perception, 1798-1984

Farther Shore: A Natural History of Perception, 1798-1984

by Don Gifford

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Gifford's central theme is that our five senses act as a creative filter, selectively shaping our world even as external reality molds the senses. His time-frame extends from the publication in 1798 of Wordsworth and Coleridge's Lyrical Ballads to 1984 , the anti-utopia of George Orwell's novel. How the telephone creates the illusion of private, intimate conversation; how the spreading megalopolis negates a sense of place; the mass carnage of our century--these are some of the precepts with which he wrestles. Author of two books on James Joyce, Gifford, a professor at Williams College, takes an associative approach to his topic, touching on dozens of subjects--advertising, electronic eavesdropping, Thoreau, Swift, photography, celebrity, etc.--yet making worthwhile observations on each. Humane and highly perceptive, this delightful essay redefines the way we look at the world. (Feb.)
Library Journal - Library Journal
Gifford, best known as editor of the excellent 1966 classic Literature of Architecture , is intriguing, refreshing, and thought-provoking here. By ``perception,'' he means the effects of technology, urbanization, population growth, and social and cultural expansion on our perceptions--how planes, trains, and automobiles have changed our perception of time and distance; how electronic media have affected our perception of ``news'' and ``celebrities''; and how ``big numbers'' have changed our perception of size and distance. His main points of reference are the journals and letters of the naturalist Gilbert White, but the book brims with examples from Thoreau, Wordsworth, and Joyce, among others, in clever counterpoint to present-day examples from Reagan to People magazine. This is a thinking person's alternative to the rash of futurist and pseudosociological tracts that infest the publishing world.-- Mark L. Shelton, Columbus, Ohio
Impossible to summarize, this book displays the play of intelligence around a variety of subjects--literary, scientific, technological, and political. The year 1798 saw the publication of Wordsworth and Coleridge's Lyrical Ballads. Gifford looks back at this "farther shore" and the "near shore" of the late 20th century, with a view toward understanding the transformations and the constants in human perception. Not indexed, but this is a book for reading rather than research. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

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Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
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