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James Attlee
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Nocturne: A Journey in Search of Moonlight

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  94 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews

“Nobody who has not taken one can imagine the beauty of a walk through Rome by full moon,” wrote Goethe in 1787. Sadly, the imagination is all we have today: in Rome, as in every other modern city, moonlight has been banished, replaced by the twenty-four-hour glow of streetlights in a world that never sleeps. Moonlight, for most of us, is no more.


So James Attlee set out t

Unknown Binding, 320 pages
Published May 14th 2014 by Not Avail (first published 2010)
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Nov 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Nocturne, James Attlee really pleasingly tells the stories of his various moon-focused journeys. He's interested in exploring the role of moonlight in art/culture/life, both historically and now, in a time when light pollution means people in general see less of the moon and are probably less aware of the moon than in the past. He goes to Japan for the autumn moon-viewing festival of Tsukimi; he goes to Italy and writes about Vesuvius and painters of the volcano and the moonlit Bay of Naples; ...more
May 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
"......if you asked what it was that inspired me to write about moonlight I would tell you that it was not about the moon at all but an absence of moon",

Thoroughly enjoyed this book - why isn't James Attlee better known? I'd already loved another of his works (Station to Station) and this was every bit as good.

Astronomy and star gazing seem to have become more popular of late, maybe due to TV personalities such as Professor Brian Cox.
A decent telescope has become affordable, and there are many s
This one is a hard one to comment on.

On the cover, it says "This book may become many people's favourite." I would open this as many moonlover people's.

Besides the captivating name and cover, the content of the book is very well made for the moonlovers. There is a lot of historical information and personal experiences on the moon, which sometimes jump the track a bit, but very artistically written. Yet, all these satisfying elements couldn't help with the boredom. It was one of the books I had p
Aug 12, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: opl, overdrive
2.5 stars: I found this book tough to get through, which was unfortunate. It was beautifully written and lyrical, but I was often jarred by interjections of the author's personal observations that (I think) were failed attempts at being humorous.

I think first I'll start with the positives. I really loved what I *did* learn from the author here. He tended to focus on the moon's presence in art and literature, with an emphasis on the visual arts. I can't say that I particularly remember each of t
Siobhán Mc Laughlin
Sadly this book failed to live up to its thrilling premise for me. If only the book was all about moonlight!
The author (who came across as a pompous snob in many parts it has to be said) kept going off on all kinds of tangents on subjects quite irrelevant to moonlight - volcanoes, rivers, London, anyone? - but ones dear to his own heart and thereby deemed sufficient to be included. You couldn't help but feel the reader was being excluded from his obtuse ramblings most of the time.
The many shor
Jan 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
I looked forward to reading this book: I adore the moon. The very first and last chapter is about the author's moon watching in his home area; this was gorgeous reading, and really mirrored my own feeling of wellbeing about stepping outside into moonlight. I don't know what it is about moonlight, but things always seem brighter with a white, full moon in the sky.

The book in split into several chapters of moonwatching in selected countries: the first is London, and provides us with some backgrou
Jul 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

His ideas and writing are very unique and I learned things, many esoteric facts I never would have stumbled over independently. His obvious art interest encouraged certain inclusions, but given my ignorance of many cited paintings, I would have loved small reproductions, even black and white. No doubt that would have required a different level of funding and permissions. Unfortunately I have little interest to explore those my own and I suppose that sums of the book: interesting for the time of
Chock-full of all sorts of anecdotes about the moon.
There's everything from the author's moonlit walks in his own town, to Japanese moon festivals, to kooky New Age contraptions, to the Apollo program, to stories about artists who used the moon as a major motif in their work.

I was hooked from the start when he wrote about having an "assignation" with the moon - as if the moon were his mistress. There's some interesting thoughts about how differences in how the moon is viewed might lead to other
Night RPM
A book that is literally obsessed with the moon and the night. Attlee is incredibly erudite and writes with fluid but modest elegance. The best parts of the book are when Attlee shares esoteric events/facts about something - the moment of discovery, for the reader, I feel, is as pleasant & genuine as it must have been for the writer. One jumps from Li Po to Mussolini to Basho to Rudolph Hess, and I really loved taking this detour through Attlee's book. This is very much a book for the promen ...more
Aug 25, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't make it past page 100 of this book. In the opening chapters, James Attlee says he disagrees that urban lighting reduces crime. He even manages to accuse the old people of an estate who complained and were insecure when street lighting was turned off from midnight to 5am of being somehow out of touch with reality. He suggests (without proof) that in their "very middle-class residential area of the suburbs" crime rates would be low and they are being somehow foolish. I would suggest he ...more
Feb 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: atico
«Attlee escribe de manera maravillosa y emocionante sobre la luna». John Banville
«Apasionante. Te apetece sacar una silla al jardín y leer a la luz de la luna.» The New York Times
«Nocturno es una buena guía que recupera los paseos nocturnos, el placer de la contemplación y la emoción de la naturaleza. Nos insta a recuperar la capacidad de disfrutar del aquí y del ahora.» The Telegraph
«Un libro erudito, sencillo, ligeramente chiflado y totalmente cautivador.» The Sunday Times
«Attlee siempre es am
A non-fiction work that reads like fiction. It is an ode to the moon that travels through culture and time to illustrate its significance. The author also mourns the coming of technology such as street lights, our predilection for locking ourselves up at night in our bulb-drenched homes, etc. -- all things that have robbed us of the night sky.

The author knows how to use imagery and establishes some really beautiful scenes, but there's a point where it starts to seem like to much...almost like a
Jenn Larsen
I started out really enjoying this strange book and Attlee's gorgeous way with metaphor. Until halfway through I began to feel overstuffed by metaphors, as if I'd had too much foie gras. There's a lovely meandering quality to his writing, and a gentle touch with an ethereal subject, but I have a feeling the overall memory won't last long. Side note that may have affected my judgement: By the time I was finished, I was feeling a little cranky about how nice it would be if someone paid me to trave ...more
Nov 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction15
A pleasing read. I like the way Attlee was happy to put himself at the centre of his explorations - which made it more real and moving for me - it was a piece of dispassionate research - but his own personal quest into understanding something that had grabbed his attention. And I like the places he chose to consider moonlight.
Nov 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A whimsical and very informative worldwide tour in pursuit of the moon. Attlee is a talented writer, his style drawing one in as he details cultural and historical perspectives intermingled with his own musings on his subject. An enjoyable and distinct book.
Ken Mannion
May 09, 2013 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 30, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The prose sometimes can't get out of its own way. The travelogue portions of the book, though, are quite moving.
Reading to Sara.
We put on hold 29 April 2015 as there are other things we need to get to; at p. 109. We are enjoying it but not making fast progress, although it is a fairly easy read.
Sep 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting meander around the planet looking at different cultures and ways of looking at the moon
Apr 20, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Liked it, but didn't love it. Didn't feel any guilt about returning it to the library before finishing it. Worth a quick read.
Sep 11, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some nice insights into the culture that has sprung up around moon study. Some myths, stories and interesting tidbits about artists and people who love the moon.
Alexandra Zk
Mar 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very powerful book, read this on the plane, it's the prettiest book I've ever read <3
Jan 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
I found the first third to half of this book to be very eye opening...then it digressed, but I was still able to slowly make my way through it.
Sep 06, 2012 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recommended-tcpl
GB recco: eleanorigby "It's about finding moonlight and the treatment of the moon and moonlight throughout history and in culture. "
Jan 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun, eclectic mix of the personal, natural, poetical, and art historical. The essay about tskukimi
in Japan was my favorite: Basho, Tanizaki, Hiroshige, mosses, temples, and McDonalds.
rated it did not like it
Mar 15, 2014
Lizzie Lee
rated it it was amazing
Jul 22, 2013
rated it it was amazing
Feb 24, 2018
rated it it was ok
Nov 15, 2015
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