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Landscape And Memory
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Landscape And Memory

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  611 ratings  ·  56 reviews
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
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Paperback, 672 pages
Published November 5th 1996 by Vintage (first published 1st 1995)
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Community Reviews

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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
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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 ...more
Rebecca
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.
Erica
Mar 16, 2007 Erica rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: dorks
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 ...more
Sabina
La mémoire est un art difficile. trop souvent elle n'est quélaboration visant à donner sens à un présent. Trop souvent elle refoule.
Le livre de Simon Schama est remarquable d'érudition et d'intelligence de l'histoire. A chaque page nous nous instruisons. Nous apprenons qu'un paysage vierge même de ruines peut cependant renfermer sa part de mémoire.
C'est que l'auteur a une connaissance inouie des représentations, de ces constructions mentales qui ont jalonné l'histoire de l'humanité. A la jointur
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Jan-Maat
A big book, well illustrated and rich in anecdote (I particularly like the one about Whitebait in 18th century British politics). As a whole though it feels inconclusive, I understand that it originated as a lecture course which might explain that.
Chris
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 ...more
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
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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.
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.
Dinah
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.
Ellen
This book is for avid consumers of a delicious, witty, educated read about topics you never thought you'd find interesting.
Satyrblade
A sweeping exploration of the effects of the natural world on human culture. One of my favorite books!
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 ...more
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 ...more
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.
Joe
Feb 03, 2008 Joe rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: artists, dabblers, arcana addicts.
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.
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.

Dermot Mccabe
I love this book. The breadth of Simon Schama's interests and knowledge is astounding. The book is packed with revelations and insights. It is beautiflly written and structured. It combines the delight of reading wonderful prose and the pleasure of learning. This is a book I will read and re-read with the certain knowledge that every time I open it I will learn something new.
Laura
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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.
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.
Adrian
didn't actually read it cover to cover. used passages for research. the passages that supported my thesis.
Barbara Guttman
The more important book, in history and history of art, for the 21e century
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 ...more
Al Bità
My rating of this book is a result of contradictory responses to this work and its production. A 'big' book, it also weighs over 1.6 kg — not easy to carry around... and the comparatively large size of the page makes one tremble occasionally at masses of words in solid blocks... Fortunately, much of the book is broken up with illustrations. But the feeling overall is 'big' and 'heavy'.

The notes at the back tell us that this work is in fact an accumulation of lectures given at various locations b
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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
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Iosephus Bibliothecarius
This book is a fascinating treatise on the role nature (specifically wood, water, and rock) has played in Western culture. Art and history professor at Columbia University, Schama considered this the one book he needed to write. He expertly touches on so many examples of our environment's influence on our collective memory that the book is difficult to describe- everything from Hitler's obsession with the forests of Europe and the battles fought to get Susan B. Anthony on Mount Rushmore, to West ...more
Salvatore
Thank Xenu this is over. A worthwhile read, if you want to see how memory and history seep into landscape - either imagined or viewed, created or re-created, fictionalised or actual - and how that affects us humans today.

Simon may be a little more into himself than he is into his subjects, as sometimes the thesis feels like it's everywhere and nowhere yet his presence is, well, omnipresent. Push through the self-indulgent introduction and the rest is a breeze. Going to the Met, MoMA, etc as I re
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  • The Civilization Of Europe In The Renaissance
  • Religion and the Decline of Magic: Studies in Popular Beliefs in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century England
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  • Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature
  • A History of Pagan Europe
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  • The Country and the City
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  • The Great Cat Massacre: And Other Episodes in French Cultural History
  • Divine Fury: A History of Genius
  • In Search of the Indo-Europeans
  • Home: A Short History of an Idea
  • Montaillou: The Promised Land of Error
  • The Age of the Cathedrals: Art and Society, 980-1420
  • The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World
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Simon Schama was born in 1945. The son of a textile merchant with Lithuanian and Turkish grandparents, he spent his early years in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex. When his parents moved to London he won a scholarship to Haberdashers’ Aske’s School where his two great loves were English and History. Forced to choose between the two he opted to read history at Christ’s College, Cambridge. Here he was taught ...more
More about Simon Schama...
The Power of Art Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution A History of Britain: At the Edge of the World? 3500 BC-AD 1603 (A History of Britain, #1) The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age Rembrandt's Eyes

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