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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 sculptor and a feminist 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


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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 sculptor and a feminist 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

30 review for Landscape and Memory

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jan-Maat

    A big book, well illustrated and rich in anecdote (I particularly like the one about Whitebait in 18th century British politics). It is lovely to have a lengthy discussion of Pan Tadeusz, but the whole thing screams 'TV series' rather than book, rambling with discussions in passing on the sights and significances of the forest (view spoiler)[ there is also some discussion of other environments (hide spoiler)] but lacking in great analysis, I find it doubtful I will ever read it again, except perh A big book, well illustrated and rich in anecdote (I particularly like the one about Whitebait in 18th century British politics). It is lovely to have a lengthy discussion of Pan Tadeusz, but the whole thing screams 'TV series' rather than book, rambling with discussions in passing on the sights and significances of the forest (view spoiler)[ there is also some discussion of other environments (hide spoiler)] but lacking in great analysis, I find it doubtful I will ever read it again, except perhaps potential to a curious child (view spoiler)[ in which case aloud, though whatever comical voices I might attempt, none could be as arch as Schama's own typical timbre (hide spoiler)] . As a whole though it feels inconclusive, I understand that it originated as a lecture course which might explain that. As books go it is possibly a little too big and heavy to pass easily as light-hearted fun, although it is.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I read this a long time ago, and didn't find it easy to read, but oh! so very worthwhile when I finally made it to Europe and could see the places he was writing about. It really makes a difference when you are tramping through all those palaces when you understand the political purpose and symbolism behind the architecture and gardens. I summarised each chapter as I read, but I'm not going to regurgitate that here. What I remember is all sorts of odd things - here's just one example: how the Br I read this a long time ago, and didn't find it easy to read, but oh! so very worthwhile when I finally made it to Europe and could see the places he was writing about. It really makes a difference when you are tramping through all those palaces when you understand the political purpose and symbolism behind the architecture and gardens. I summarised each chapter as I read, but I'm not going to regurgitate that here. What I remember is all sorts of odd things - here's just one example: how the British nearly lost their war with France because they were a (fledgling) democracy: the barons cut down the royal forests for timber, and then when they needed trees with long straight trunks to make masts with, there weren't any left. The French had no such problem because their king ruled like a god and all his forests were intact. Just writing this makes me want to read it again!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Malcolm

    This is rich and dense, displaying a breadth of scholarship that is humbling. Bits of the book are outstanding, but my principal concern is that Schama does not seem to effectively distinguish representations of the landscape as things to be looked at (visual and plastic arts) from repesentations of the landscape made to be occupied (such as garden design). Whereas both are representations, the difficulty I find with not making this distinction clear is that we experience them differently - this This is rich and dense, displaying a breadth of scholarship that is humbling. Bits of the book are outstanding, but my principal concern is that Schama does not seem to effectively distinguish representations of the landscape as things to be looked at (visual and plastic arts) from repesentations of the landscape made to be occupied (such as garden design). Whereas both are representations, the difficulty I find with not making this distinction clear is that we experience them differently - this is one of those times when Schama's fairly conservative mode of history has let him down. That said, it is a rich and sophisticated book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lyn Elliott

    This is one of my all time favourite books. Schama's book is bursting with ideas about the meanings of different types of landscape in different places, and the ways these meanings are reflected in stories (legends, myths, folk stories etc) and the visual arts. It changed the way I see the world and enriched my life as a consequence. No matter how cluttered our bookshelves get, this will always be in my collection. This is one of my all time favourite books. Schama's book is bursting with ideas about the meanings of different types of landscape in different places, and the ways these meanings are reflected in stories (legends, myths, folk stories etc) and the visual arts. It changed the way I see the world and enriched my life as a consequence. No matter how cluttered our bookshelves get, this will always be in my collection.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Becca

    I've been ruminating away on this beautiful masterpiece of a book for a month now. Schama is a genius-- connecting with perfect clarity random bright historical moments into something sensical and lovely. Nazis and polish buffalo? Yes. Roman explorers and celtic heroes? Of course. Art, history, politics, and the small importance of every day life-- Schama illuminates the meaningfulness of it all so that it seems obvious and beautiful. This book is a complete education. I've been ruminating away on this beautiful masterpiece of a book for a month now. Schama is a genius-- connecting with perfect clarity random bright historical moments into something sensical and lovely. Nazis and polish buffalo? Yes. Roman explorers and celtic heroes? Of course. Art, history, politics, and the small importance of every day life-- Schama illuminates the meaningfulness of it all so that it seems obvious and beautiful. This book is a complete education.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Erica

    Landscape and Memory is a long book. It is hard not to be impressed by the shear number of pages Simon Schama can put out. And his subject matter - the cultural perception of landscape and its use in national discourses - is one I enjoy. This is an incredibly broad-brush view of the subject, meandering through Lithuanian forests to Bernini's fountains and the gardens at Versaille, then on to Mount Rushmore, to name a small sampling of the locations he grazes. There are wonderful passages in this Landscape and Memory is a long book. It is hard not to be impressed by the shear number of pages Simon Schama can put out. And his subject matter - the cultural perception of landscape and its use in national discourses - is one I enjoy. This is an incredibly broad-brush view of the subject, meandering through Lithuanian forests to Bernini's fountains and the gardens at Versaille, then on to Mount Rushmore, to name a small sampling of the locations he grazes. There are wonderful passages in this book. One of his biggest strengths is his incorporation of art criticism into historical narrative, so the 600+ pages are adorned with beautiful paintings and woodcuts. Perhaps an art historian would not be impressed, but I love it. Like most of Schama's writing, Landscape and Memory is less about furthering a complex, nuanced argument than about taking a leisurely stroll through the things Simon Schama finds interesting. This can be fun if you have a lot of time and a lot of patience. (I read this monster in chunks on the train.) Otherwise, this is a fun book to skim, oogling the pretty pictures as you pass.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    About a year ago, I was watching Animal Plant or the National Geographic channel. I can't remember which one. Anyhow, there was this American, you know the kind that makes all Americans cringe. He was going in some cave filled with water and bat poop to look at snakes. He made this poor snake barf up its meal of bat to prove that snakes kill bats in the dark. He let the snake back in the murk, and a couple minutes got bite by a snake (if there is any justice, the same snake). The snake wasn't po About a year ago, I was watching Animal Plant or the National Geographic channel. I can't remember which one. Anyhow, there was this American, you know the kind that makes all Americans cringe. He was going in some cave filled with water and bat poop to look at snakes. He made this poor snake barf up its meal of bat to prove that snakes kill bats in the dark. He let the snake back in the murk, and a couple minutes got bite by a snake (if there is any justice, the same snake). The snake wasn't posionous (it was a type of constrictor), but its teeth were sharp and the guy was walking in water mixed with bat poop (why, he thought this was a good thing, I don't know). To be fair, it looked like the snake got him pretty good. So nature guy leaves the cave and starts the long hike back to the truck (cause the cave is in the middle of nowhere), complaining all the time about how he's making the hike alone and so it's hard because the bite hurts. All the time, however, you can see the camera man's legs. Schama's book isn't like that nature guy, who got to keep his leg. What the book does, in some ways, is explain why guys like that get television shows. People are conflicted about landscapes see. Men went to conquer them, and women, according to Schama, went to have union with them. I haven't read anything by Schama before. I have watched and also own on DVD, his History of Britain and The Power of Art (which is good, but not as good as Private Life of a Masterpiece). I like them, and Schama seems smart, but I can't take his facial expressions when he talks. It's like he has this combination of smelling something icky, mixed with disdain. It's werid. The voice is no problem, but his facial expression freak me out. It's actually a pretty good book because there are no facial expressions. True in some parts, it seems as if Schama is writing to just to read himself, but in other parts he seems brillant. Schama covers the politics around the history of the Robin Hood legend as well as the building of fountains and waterworks. He describes how people have viewed arcadia, rock, tree, and water. He focuses, it should be noted, on Western culture for the most part. France, Italy, England, and the USA make up most of the work. I found the part about Mt. Rushmore to be intersting because I hadn't known that there was a movement to put Susan B. Anthony on the mountain. Schama describes that sequence with humor and empathy.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Maddy

    This book brought out a lot of things for me: issues of anthropocentrism, how do we get out of it? Can we get out of it? Can we talk about the experiences of creatures or things that are not human without anthropocentrising them? Can we anthropocentrisize them and be aware that we are doing so? To what degree is this self awareness acceptable? Schama focused more on the memory than the landscape, which is fine, but his thesis was lost and not resolved. This was a book about men on land, not man a This book brought out a lot of things for me: issues of anthropocentrism, how do we get out of it? Can we get out of it? Can we talk about the experiences of creatures or things that are not human without anthropocentrising them? Can we anthropocentrisize them and be aware that we are doing so? To what degree is this self awareness acceptable? Schama focused more on the memory than the landscape, which is fine, but his thesis was lost and not resolved. This was a book about men on land, not man and land. It was also odd that he would speak of America and not even mentioned the histories of blood and genocide that mark their landscape, but was willing to do so when speaking of Poland. I understand one cannot cover everything, but an aside, or at least an acknowledgment is necessary. This book was not what I needed it to be, but that has more to do with me than Schama. And the strongest parts of this book always involved him.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bookish

    This is a fantastic book. The doorstop size of it daunted me at first, but Simon Schama is such a brilliant, effervescent writer, I was caught up immediately. If you’re looking for an erudite page-turner endlessly conversant with art, architecture, history, and literature, not to mention forestry, horticulture, natural history, and more, Landscape and Memory is the doorstop for you! Schama looks at the way nature has shaped western culture: the way mountains, rivers, woods and forests have, in t This is a fantastic book. The doorstop size of it daunted me at first, but Simon Schama is such a brilliant, effervescent writer, I was caught up immediately. If you’re looking for an erudite page-turner endlessly conversant with art, architecture, history, and literature, not to mention forestry, horticulture, natural history, and more, Landscape and Memory is the doorstop for you! Schama looks at the way nature has shaped western culture: the way mountains, rivers, woods and forests have, in their beauty, geography, and symbolic power, permeated so much in European and American cultural realms. His prose is musical, his voice is witty, and he has a near omniscient grasp of his topic. Who knew a chapter focused on bison in a Lithuanian forest could be so fascinating! —Phil (https://www.bookish.com/articles/frid...)

  10. 5 out of 5

    Dinah Steveni

    I have the first edition... and as a plein air painter, I especially found Ch 9 Arcadia Redesigned informative. It's a go back to book in my library. I have the first edition... and as a plein air painter, I especially found Ch 9 Arcadia Redesigned informative. It's a go back to book in my library.

  11. 5 out of 5

    John Caviglia

    A wonderfully compendious, leisurely, ultimately compelling ramble through art, literature and intellectual history, making the point that we see “Nature” through “Culture” (or, in Schama’s word, “Memory”). Having read and much admired Marjorie Hope Nicholson’s brilliant book, Mountain Gloom, Mountain Glory years ago, I was led to read Schama as a much larger but related take on the subject of culture seeing nature, and I was not disappointed. That is, though his general argument was no surprise A wonderfully compendious, leisurely, ultimately compelling ramble through art, literature and intellectual history, making the point that we see “Nature” through “Culture” (or, in Schama’s word, “Memory”). Having read and much admired Marjorie Hope Nicholson’s brilliant book, Mountain Gloom, Mountain Glory years ago, I was led to read Schama as a much larger but related take on the subject of culture seeing nature, and I was not disappointed. That is, though his general argument was no surprise, the tome was marvelous in its detailed examination of how the Western World (for he touches on the far East but lightly) regards the natural world, which he divides into the categories of wood, water and rock (woods, rivers and mountains, essentially). Of these, I found the first most fascinating, especially Schama’s reading of what wilderness meant to Tacitus, and how this, and his depiction of the Roman empire vs “Germania” as an attraction/repulsion, culture vs barbarism, and ultimately corrupt civilization vs primitive nobility evolved in Europe into such unlikely ‘bedfellows’ as Robin Hood, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Hitler. The section on rivers fascinates as well, as always with gripping, often improbable, detail—such as Sir Walter Ralegh rowing up the pestilential Orinoco river in search of El Dorado…. The third section, on mountains, was least surprising, as building on Marjorie Hope Nicholson, but still well worth it. There are many wonderful illustrations, including color plates, for which I have a deep weakness. And Schama writes richly well, so that one is not surprised that he composes and narrates documentaries for BBC. Also I personally very much like the fact that, at crucial places, he roots his work in his own life—for example, he begins the part on forests with the fact that his ancestors were Jewish wood cutters in what is now Lithuania. To those not willing to undertake an intellectual ramble of this length I recommend Marjorie Hope Nicholson’s Mountain Gloom, Mountain Glory as shorter and more “ahead of its time.” But those with the time to journey with Schama as commentator on man and landscape will find much to marvel at and enjoy in his teeming pages.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    A fully engrossing, but very long book. I like art, I like history, and I really like Simon Schama, so using the transitive property, I guess I really liked this book. I would caution potential readers, however, that it is not a book that can be read lightly. After finishing it, I have decided to treat myself to the softer ramblings of Chuck Klosterman. By the way, I have shelved this in the american history shelf because there are some references to the United States and its landcape and history A fully engrossing, but very long book. I like art, I like history, and I really like Simon Schama, so using the transitive property, I guess I really liked this book. I would caution potential readers, however, that it is not a book that can be read lightly. After finishing it, I have decided to treat myself to the softer ramblings of Chuck Klosterman. By the way, I have shelved this in the american history shelf because there are some references to the United States and its landcape and history; however, those seeking an american history book will be very disappointed.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    Historian, Simon Schama's book on the psychology we invest upon landscape (and vice versa) is a profound book that makes my personal imagination seem withered and dry - it also encouraged me to keep reading. If you are interested in history, myth, art, culture, and psychology this book will be a permanent addition to your library. It is unlike any book I have ever read, and Schama is a master of prose. Filled with many fine color illustrations, art, maps, photographs. Historian, Simon Schama's book on the psychology we invest upon landscape (and vice versa) is a profound book that makes my personal imagination seem withered and dry - it also encouraged me to keep reading. If you are interested in history, myth, art, culture, and psychology this book will be a permanent addition to your library. It is unlike any book I have ever read, and Schama is a master of prose. Filled with many fine color illustrations, art, maps, photographs.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tom Wolfe

    Man creates myths around which political, religious and social activities cohere. Many of these deal with the relationship of a people to nature; for example the English and the sea, the Germans and the forest, Romany (gypsies) and the road. Schama uses art and artists as the media through which he explores these myths.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Wayne

    Lacks focus - Schama can and will use any bit of history or tangent to illustrate broad themes which could have been condensed into a long article. This is entertaining at times, like watching a talented college professor that's very stoned riff on history for hour after hour. But it's a 672 page book. Lacks focus - Schama can and will use any bit of history or tangent to illustrate broad themes which could have been condensed into a long article. This is entertaining at times, like watching a talented college professor that's very stoned riff on history for hour after hour. But it's a 672 page book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    This book is for avid consumers of a delicious, witty, educated read about topics you never thought you'd find interesting. This book is for avid consumers of a delicious, witty, educated read about topics you never thought you'd find interesting.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Satyros Brucato

    A sweeping exploration of the effects of the natural world on human culture. One of my favorite books!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Stuart Aken

    Art historian, philosopher, raconteur, academic, or proselyte? Simon Schama’s great tome carries elements of all these. One reviewer, quoted on the cover, adds ‘self-indulgent and perverse’, and I’ve no argument with those. There are undoubted instances of the self-congratulatory, ‘I know a lot more than you’, and the academic show-off in this extraordinarily dense piece of erudition and scholarship. I suppose I should declare how I came to read this book, which isn’t a volume I’d have normally ac Art historian, philosopher, raconteur, academic, or proselyte? Simon Schama’s great tome carries elements of all these. One reviewer, quoted on the cover, adds ‘self-indulgent and perverse’, and I’ve no argument with those. There are undoubted instances of the self-congratulatory, ‘I know a lot more than you’, and the academic show-off in this extraordinarily dense piece of erudition and scholarship. I suppose I should declare how I came to read this book, which isn’t a volume I’d have normally acquired. Resident in the UK, I was seeking a translation of the Qur’an, for research purposes, and could find nothing suitable. Eventually, I discovered one on the Amazon USA site, so ordered it. The package arrived with a brick of a book (priced at £30.00) and about five times the physical size of the paperback I’d ordered. It was Simon Schama’s book. I explained, via email, what had happened. The generous folk over the pond suggested I keep the book they’d posted in error and then sent me the book I’d ordered. There’s some irony that an order for a book on Islam should produce a volume written from a distinctively Jewish point of view, but that’s no matter to an agnostic, of course. The anecdotal passages, accounts of family history, I found entertaining and engaging. But much of the scholarly text, replete with references to historical figures I frequently failed to recognise, was too unfamiliar to permit a sympathetic read. There were lengthy passages that would no doubt delight the specialist, but which bored me to sleep. Too much information can be as off-putting as too little, and I was left with the impression of an author more concerned to demonstrate his immense range and depth of knowledge than to provide the casual reader with a means of accessing it. The book deals largely with the way in which landscape informs our imaginations and therefore influences the creation of works of art. How locations can impact on both events and the artist’s response to them. It’s also a history lesson deeply influenced by the Hebrew view of the world. A significantly weighty tome, both physically (I read part of it while in hospital and found my arms soon wearied from holding it up) and in terms of content, it was a work I could read only in portions. I learnt much but was also frequently left in the dark about those aspects of which I had no former knowledge. Students of art history and Jewish society will find a great deal in these pages. For the general reader there’s a mix of the incomprehensible with informed education. So, a work I enjoyed in part and endured in others. Frustrating and rewarding in turn.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    A work of startling ambition, executed in brief vignettes of anecdote, history, and art scholarship. I had had my eye on Landscape and Memory ever since I first saw it on the shelf at the Mudd, but never quite got around to lugging it home and spending the five weeks it ended up taking me to get through it. I was intrigued by the dark, dense, symbolic forest pictures I saw flipping through, and what I inferred to be its premise. Having read it, I'm still not really sure what the thesis of this bo A work of startling ambition, executed in brief vignettes of anecdote, history, and art scholarship. I had had my eye on Landscape and Memory ever since I first saw it on the shelf at the Mudd, but never quite got around to lugging it home and spending the five weeks it ended up taking me to get through it. I was intrigued by the dark, dense, symbolic forest pictures I saw flipping through, and what I inferred to be its premise. Having read it, I'm still not really sure what the thesis of this book is - Schama makes some noises about it in the intro and conclusion, but the body of the book is just wall-to-wall anecdotes. It's an impressively eclectic collection, bound together seamlessly with prose that is both authoritative and elegant. As dense and long as it is, L&M is fun to read, full of historical figures with foibles and mythologies. Schama just dives in with stories pulled from the whole gamut of European art history (though the stories are invariably about white male artists and writers :/) and he throws you in without a lot of context. I occasionally felt a bit daft, like I should really know what Napoleon was up to in 1812 or who the Hannovers were. He covers a lot of nature tropes in some depth, and I felt like I was getting a serious education in art history, symbology, and environmental attitudes. I took quite a few notes and really felt like I learned a lot, even about a subject I had some passing familiarity with already. I did occasionally wish he'd stray into more mythological and fantastical territory, but things generally stay pretty Christian. Christianity, of course, goes a loooong way, in European art history. And at times it still feels like he's just scratching the surface, or covering interesting and unusual examples of trends I wasn't entirely familiar with in the first place. There's a lot of great landscape art in here, occasionally things I had a hard time finding good images of online even. Schama doesn't spend a ton of time trying to hand-hold the reader through examining paintings, which is probably for the best, but the comments he did make suggested some interpretative angles and just basic visual literacy that made them a bit more meaningful.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lesliemae

    Landscape and Memory provides a way of looking at the culture-laden landscape from the forests of Lithuania to the sequoias of California, from the early and proto-Renaissance (and even further in Classical myth) into the American western frontier. The aim of Schama is to rediscover our approach to the earth through woods, water, and rock, and how layers of myth inform this relationship with the earth. Yet, it has a twist that many environmentalists may take issue with. This is a highly anthropo Landscape and Memory provides a way of looking at the culture-laden landscape from the forests of Lithuania to the sequoias of California, from the early and proto-Renaissance (and even further in Classical myth) into the American western frontier. The aim of Schama is to rediscover our approach to the earth through woods, water, and rock, and how layers of myth inform this relationship with the earth. Yet, it has a twist that many environmentalists may take issue with. This is a highly anthropocentric investigation turned celebration of human habitation in nature. He states, "Instead of being yet another explanation of what we have lost, it is an exploration of what we may yet find." As such, Schama's excavation project is not exactly into nature, but rather into the layers of ourselves and how our own veins tremble with myth and memory. The hope is that as we mine into our own cultural representations there may be a primary bedrock, laid down centuries or even millennia ago that might be brought to light and allowed to shine into an "enlightened" reader. There is much to admire in this book, including Schama's wonderful prose style, but it must be read with an equally critical eye toward its ultimate environmental claims as it is not an earth-centred project. As Calvino once wrote about one of this "thin cities" you get to choose what you venerate: whether human ingenuity or the ever-replenishing power of a subterranean force of nature. Schama tries to walk the ever gentle middle path, but all too often the mechanics of his investigation and measurement of self and nature slip into the scene.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Bobby Thym

    Charlton Heston in his forced interview with Michael Moore reminded us all that Europe had a frontier, too. It's easy to forget this simple point. Schama looks at the art of the 18th and 19th centuries and shows how romanticism emerges from the art of this period. He argues that we are have been taught to look at nature in a certain way, and he then asks all of us where our feeling and thoughts about nature came from. I think the most ardent tree hugger or environmentalist has to return to the R Charlton Heston in his forced interview with Michael Moore reminded us all that Europe had a frontier, too. It's easy to forget this simple point. Schama looks at the art of the 18th and 19th centuries and shows how romanticism emerges from the art of this period. He argues that we are have been taught to look at nature in a certain way, and he then asks all of us where our feeling and thoughts about nature came from. I think the most ardent tree hugger or environmentalist has to return to the Romantic period. Does this mean that we should not advocate for the earth, good stewardship, a more honest form of economics, sustainable energy, national and state parks, endangered species? No, but it is wise to know where one's thoughts, feelings and philosophies originated? A very good read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Avis Black

    Schama approaches his topic from the historian's perspective, and the problem with this is that there's a great deal of history in this book but not much about landscapes. I would prefer a much more intense focus on artists, their individual works, and the artistic world and mindset than Schama provides. The book may be useful for those who have never taken any courses about the history of landscapes. Those who have will already be familiar with much of his subject matter. Schama approaches his topic from the historian's perspective, and the problem with this is that there's a great deal of history in this book but not much about landscapes. I would prefer a much more intense focus on artists, their individual works, and the artistic world and mindset than Schama provides. The book may be useful for those who have never taken any courses about the history of landscapes. Those who have will already be familiar with much of his subject matter.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    This is a long and rambling book, but that’s okay. He explores the notion of myth and culture relating to landscape, that in turn reoccurs through time in different forms. Divided into broad sections on wood, rock and water this is a very rich and varied account from the dark forests of Germany to Italian fountains. Packed with anecdote and stories of both the eccentric and sublime I would strongly recommend this book.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book is extremely well researched. All the information spans many years in history and a lot of distance geographically. However, there are so many anecdotes that I sometimes loose sight of the thesis. The last chapter, 500 pages in, helped pull everything together. The narrative is slightly personal, connecting current life experiences with historical events.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mark Levison

    I really wanted to like this book, instead it wore me down. Others have covered well what is great about it. I will say only that Schama seemed to have been missing an editor. It took over two years to read, in the end I finished it out of shear doggedness. Great ideas buried inside alot of extra writing.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Adrian

    didn't actually read it cover to cover. used passages for research. the passages that supported my thesis. didn't actually read it cover to cover. used passages for research. the passages that supported my thesis.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    A very deep read. This book restitches the fabric of many various regions by wandering through history to better understand and appreciate those specific landscapes.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Guttman

    The more important book, in history and history of art, for the 21e century

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lucinda

    gorgoeous and unique history of time and place

  30. 4 out of 5

    Andrada

    I bought a copy of Landscape and Memory with the first money I earned writing fiction. I felt like I should mark the occasion by buying a rather expensive book and as I had just been awestruck by some of Simon Schama’s supremely insightful and eloquent BBC programmes, I wanted to give one of his books a try too. It did take me a while to get around to reading it though. Landscape and Memory is a behemoth both in size and the quantity of information packed within its pages. Its stories are eclecti I bought a copy of Landscape and Memory with the first money I earned writing fiction. I felt like I should mark the occasion by buying a rather expensive book and as I had just been awestruck by some of Simon Schama’s supremely insightful and eloquent BBC programmes, I wanted to give one of his books a try too. It did take me a while to get around to reading it though. Landscape and Memory is a behemoth both in size and the quantity of information packed within its pages. Its stories are eclectic and feature a host of obscure historical figures whose main concern in one way or another was nature and man’s influence on it. From the inventor of hiking to the first woman to climb Mont Blanc to a host of foresters, gardeners, adventurers, painters and poets, Schama effortlessly crosses the centuries and offers a unique perspective on the way humanity attaches its own fictions, myths and histories to the natural landscape. It is definitely not an easy or fast read, but it tends to get under your skin. When I took a break from it to read The Novices of Sais by Novalis, a pre-Romantic German poet, at the back of my mind I kept remembering what Simon Schama said about the myth of the primeval forest in German history and the reasons it enflamed the minds of the Romantics. While visiting a medieval church in Sighisoara in Romania, I suddenly came across a verdant cross and realized I knew why the cross looked like a tree because of Landscape and Memory. I love these kind of books that deepen your understanding of the world and make you notice things you didn’t realize were there before. That being said, there are certain parts of it that are a bit dated. I’m thinking here in particular about the dismissive way Schama talks about ecology at the beginning of the 90s and how he is clearly addressing an American audience at many points throughout the book. It was interesting to realize how much certain things have changed in the last nearly 25 years since the book came out. I became so used to these sort of books usually addressing a global audience and at least trying to offer a global perspective on a subject that I was taken by surprise by Schama in 1995 unabashedly writing about Western ideas for a Western audience.

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