Once seen as a dark and sinister force, the domain of monsters, the sea was associated with catastrophe and fear by many Europeans prior to the eighteenth century. Alain Corbin's engaging book reveals how attitudes toward the ocean gradually began to shift from the negative to the positive, so that by the mid-1800s our present-day salubrious notion of the seashore had come into being.
Going back to ancient times, Corbin describes conceptions of the sea in relationship to how people thought and felt about their place in the world. He then shows how the Enlightenment and changing attitudes in science, literature, and art affected notions of the sea. Ocean bathing came to be seen as therapeutic, the sea was linked with the creation of life, and the shore became a locale for self-exploration and reverie. Discovery of the seaside had political, economic, and social effects, too. The shore as a place of pleasure led to the rapid growth of British coastal towns such as Brighton, followed by other resorts in Europe. All of this Corbin lays out in wonderful detail, blending history, theory, and anecdote into an absorbing whole.
The Lure of the Sea suggests the fashioning of a modern sensibility in the West's discovery of the shoreone that is health-conscious and intent on regeneration through vigorous contact with nature. Written by one of today's most literate and imaginative historians, it offers an inviting cultural excursion for scholars and general readers alike.
|Publisher:||University of California Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.24(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.46(d)|
About the Author
Alain Corbin is Professor of Modern History at the University of Paris I, Sorbonne and the author of The Foul and the Fragrant (1986).