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Dimensions:
210 × 148 mm
208 pages
Format:
Paperback
ISBN:
9781861899170
Illustrations:
104 illustrations, 85 in colour
Published:
15 May 2012
Series:
Earth

Volcano Nature and Culture James Hamilton

For years, tourists have trekked across cracked rock at Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano to witness the awe-inspiring sight of creeping lava and its devastating effects on the landscape. In 2010, Eyjafjallajökull erupted in Iceland, stranding travellers as a cloud of ash covered western and northern Europe, causing the largest disruption of air travel since the Second World War. And just a few months later, Mount Merapi blew in Indonesia, killing over 350 people and displacing over 350,000 others, awakening people once more to the dangerous potential of these sleeping giants.

Though today largely dormant, volcanoes continue to erupt across the world, reminding us of their sheer physical power. In Volcano, James Hamilton explores the cultural history generated by the violence and terrifying beauty of volcanoes. He describes the reverberations of early eruptions of Vesuvius and Etna in Greek and Roman myth. Volcanoes have long been subjects in art – the earliest known wall painting of an erupting volcano was painted in 6,200 BCE – and Hamilton shows that volcanoes continue to influence the artistic imagination, as seen, for example, in the distinctive colours of Andy Warhol and Michael Sandle’s exploding mountains.

Including works by famous artists, such as Salvator Rosa, Wright of Derby, Hokusai and Hiroshige, as well as previously little-known paintings, prints, drawings and photographs, this richly illustrated book will appeal to anyone interested in the science as well as the artistic impact of these spectacular natural phenomena.

‘A fascinating read, the text covers all types of volcanoes across the world, and relates them to the paintings, wood engravings and a fresco from Pompeii. The linking of history, mythology and geological fact is flawless, providing fascinating insights into different cultures, the progress of Christianity and also the technique of painting.’ – School Librarian journal

‘Examines the influence of volcanoes on art and culture throughout the world. With the help of 104 striking illustrations, the author describes artists' perceptions of volcanoes from early myths to the present, with particular emphasis on the eruptions of Vesuvius and Krakatoa. Examples of the impact of volcanoes on literature, poetry, and political cartoons are included. The humanities perspective provides a fresh look at a remarkable natural phenomenon. Recommended’ – Choice

‘An arresting collage of mythology, philosophy, literature and spectacular works of visual art inspired by nature's most exuberant phenomenon - Hamilton’s unique and imaginative miscellany and cultural geography of volcanoes and volcanology is a veritable treasure trove.’ – Clive Oppenheimer, volcanologist and author of Eruptions That Shook the World

‘James Hamilton elegantly conjures up the imagery and impact of volcanic events around the world, through centuries and across continents, mastering this complex topic with an observant eye, an incisive mind and a fluent pen; it's a book to read and then keep coming back to, again and again.’ – Gillian Darley, author of Vesuvius: The Most Famous Volcano in the World

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James Hamilton is an art historian and curator. His books include Turner A Life (1997); Turner and the Scientists (1998), Faraday The Life (2002) and London Lights The Minds that Moved the City that Shook the World 1805-51 (2007). He is University Curator and Honorary Reader at the University of Birmingham.