The Lure of the Sea: The Discovery of the Seaside in the Western World

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9780520066380: The Lure of the Sea: The Discovery of the Seaside in the Western World

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 shore—one 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.

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From the Back Cover:

Alain Corbin's wonderful book explores the dramatic change in Western attitude towards the sea and seaside pleasures that occurred between 1750 and 1840. Interest in travel; the arrival of landscape painting, geology and natural theology; fashions in medicine and the advent of the bathing-machine; the emergence of Romanticism and the Sublime - these are only some of the elements that helped transform perceptions. By the time Jane Austen wrote Sanditon - perhaps the first 'seaside' novel - in 1817, the sea and shore had come to be viewed as something intensely and sensuously pleasurable, with beach holidays all the rage in new resorts from Brighton and Scarborough to Dieppe.

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).

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Corbin, Alain
Published by University of California Press (1994)
ISBN 10: 0520066383 ISBN 13: 9780520066380
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Corbin, Alain
Published by University of California Press (1994)
ISBN 10: 0520066383 ISBN 13: 9780520066380
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 2
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