Landscape and Memory

Landscape and Memory

by Simon Schama
     
 

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One of Time Magazine's Best Books of the Year


In Landscape and Memory Schama ranges over continents and centuries to reveal the psychic claims that human beings have made on nature. He tells of the Nazi cult of the primeval German forest; the play of Christian and pagan myth in Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers; and the duel between a monumental

Overview

One of Time Magazine's Best Books of the Year


In Landscape and Memory Schama ranges over continents and centuries to reveal the psychic claims that human beings have made on nature. He tells of the Nazi cult of the primeval German forest; the play of Christian and pagan myth in Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers; and the duel between a monumental sculptor and a feminist gadfly on the slopes of Mount Rushmore. The result is a triumphant work of history, naturalism, mythology, and art.


"A work of great ambition and enormous intellectual scope...consistently provocative and revealing."—New York Times


"Extraordinary...a summary cannot convey the riches of this book. It will absorb, instruct, and fascinate."—New York Review of Books

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Historian Schama explores the roles that have been played by landscapes in myth, art and culture. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Schama presents a wide-ranging meditation on the role of nature in Western civilization from ancient times to the present. The previous books by Schama (humanities, Columbia Univ.) include The Embarassment of Riches (LJ 5/15/87) and Citizens (LJ 4/1/89). In the present work, he argues persuasively that Europeans and Americans have been shaped by nature as much as they themselves have shaped nature. Schama discusses the impact of sacred or mysterious rivers, forests, and mountains in forging the Western imagination. Individuals discussed include the expected (e.g., Henry David Thoreau) as well as some surprises (e.g., Louis XIV and Hitler). The fact that nature has had a huge impact on Western history is not a startling new revelation, but Schama is a marvelous writer and an impressive scholar. He brings together familiar and not-so-familiar stories to create a fresh reappraisal of more than 2000 years of history. Highly recommended.-T.J. Schaeper, St. Bonaventure Univ., N.Y.
Donna Seaman
ultures are shaped by place. Forests inspire tree worship; rivers are gods. These cultural constructs are the source of "landscapes," the transformation of earth into metaphor. Schama, a fluidly creative scholar and adept author with far-ranging interests, has conducted what he describes as an "excavation" of Western culture's profound landscape tradition. What he reveals in this intricately structured, finely detailed, and wonderfully engaging analysis is the endurance of our veneration for nature, a perspective we still hold dear in spite of our environmental difficulties. Schama believes that a deeper understanding of our "core myths" may help us see our way through the present crisis. Schama focuses on three types of landscapes: forests, rivers, and mountains. As he describes each setting--from the tragedy-filled forests of Poland to California's astounding redwoods, to the heavily navigated Thames and Mississippi, the otherworldly Swiss Alps and even crass Mount Rushmore--Schama interprets the myths, literature, art, and polemics that have infused each place with metaphorical, spiritual, or political significance. This beautifully illustrated volume is an awesome achievement, a masterful, multifaceted survey of the many stories and images Western culture has evolved to express our complex relationship with place and the rest of life.
From the Publisher
"Marvelously rich and eloquent...Entertaining...Wonderfully learned and perceptive." —The New York Times Book Review

"[Schama's] sinewy prose is everywhere enlivened by an illuminating wit and fueled by a relentless and joyful curiosity...You get the impression he will venture anywhere, intellectually speaking, in pursuit of his historical prey...He's a scintillating guide." —The Globe and Mail

"Fascinating...A potpourri of biography, art history and much else, skillfully blended and handsomely illustrated...Insightful." —Maclean's

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679402558
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/04/1995
Pages:
652
Product dimensions:
6.90(w) x 9.51(h) x 1.60(d)

Meet the Author

Simon Schama is Old Dominion Professor of the Humanities at Columbia University.  He is the author of Citizens, Dead Certainties and An Embarrassment of Riches.  Simon Schama lives in New York with his wife and their two children.

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