Paper $22.50 ISBN: 9781780238272 Published September 2017 For sale in North and South America only
Cloth $35.00 ISBN: 9781780235103 Published January 2016 For sale in North and South America only

The Last of the Light

About Twilight

Peter Davidson

The Last of the Light

Peter Davidson

Distributed for Reaktion Books

208 pages | 8 color plates, 17 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2015
Paper $22.50 ISBN: 9781780238272 Published September 2017 For sale in North and South America only
Cloth $35.00 ISBN: 9781780235103 Published January 2016 For sale in North and South America only
Neither day nor night, twilight has long exerted a fascination for Western artists, thinkers, and writers, while haunting the Romantics and intriguing philosophers and scientists. In The Last of the Light, Peter Davidson takes readers through our culture’s long engagement with the concept of twilight—from the melancholy of smoky English autumn evenings to the midnight sun of northern European summers and beyond. Taking in poets and painters, Victorians and Romans, city and countryside, and deftly combining memoir, literature, philosophy, and art history, Davidson shows how the atmospheric shadows and the in-between nature of twilight has fired the imagination and generated works of incredible beauty, mystery, and romance. Ambitious and brilliantly executed, this is the perfect book for the bedside table, richly rewarding and endlessly thought-provoking.
Contents
Introduction 
1. About Shadows and Gardens 
2. English Melancholy 
3. Cities of the Evening 
4. Dark Corners 
5. Hesperides 
Epilogue: Fireworks and Reflected Lights 
References 
Acknowledgments 
Photographic 
Acknowledgments 
Index
Review Quotes
Literary Review
“Davidson’s intricate meditation on twilight in European art and literature . . . is at once richly satisfying and as elusive as a ghost. . . . Like all good writers, he reveals the sheer strangeness of much that our eyes usually slide over.”
 
Nature
“Davidson enters the twilight zone, tracing the crepuscular in science, psychology, history, and the arts. Considering the 60th parallel north, around which ‘long evenings and protracted sunsets stretch,’ Davidson probes aspects of this transitional state, including visual perception during the stages of twilight (civil, nautical, and astronomical); dusk as a metaphor for crisis in Charles Dickens’s Bleak House; the proliferation of gilt and mirrors in the murky pre-electric era; and the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins’ observations of anti-crepuscular rays.”
Alexander McCall | Guardian "Books of the Year"
“For Christmas, I’d like Peter Davidson’s The Last of the Light: About Twilight.”
Clifford Cunningham | Sun News Miami
“This is simply one of the best books I have ever read.”
 
Independent
“These days, you’d expect an author just to google ‘twilight’ and pile up everything he finds. Not Davidson; this is a deep and personal meditation, and while some references, particularly to painters, might be obvious—Atkinson Grimshaw, Caspar David Friedrich, Whistler—most are not. . . . Davidson ranges right across the disciplines in his search for allusions, citing Ruskin, Rilke, Chopin, Kant, and Vanbrugh along the way. The result is revealing, poetic, and (unavoidably) illuminating. As a bonus, the book is beautifully and copiously illustrated.”
Adam Nicolso | Country Life
“What a treasure trove this book is. . . . Davidson’s beautiful and scholarly chapters are an exploration of a passion for twilight . . . beautiful and deeply nostalgic . . . Davidson has given twilight the shrine it deserves.”
Robert Macfarlane, author of Landmarks
“What an astonishing book this is: a cartography of dusk, an illumination of twilight as it has found its ways into the art, literature, dreams, moods, and metaphors of Europe and beyond. Beautiful and subtle in its tracings, it combines memoir, memory, place-writing, and cultural history by degrees so fine as to be imperceptible.” 
Matthew Beaumont | Times Literary Supplement
The Last of the Light is as much a memoir as it is a more systematic attempt to catalogue the aesthetics of twilight since at least the Renaissance. . . . Davidson is a discriminating and perceptive guide to the myriad ways in which twilight, in its various forms and at different seasons, ‘silvers everything’; and he evokes the ‘other-worldliness’ of evening with a poet’s sensitivity. . . . Itis an impressively ecumenical survey of the poetics and aesthetics of twilight, which canonizes hundreds of writers. . . . Peter Davidson’s lyrical prose… dissolves the distinctions between memoir and criticism in a soft haze. His style is deliberately impressionistic.”
Public Books
“Davidson’s twilight writing comes across as something of a barometer for time of day, for twilight. His acute eye, registering tiny gradations of light and tone, shares common ground with the contemporary English environmental observers . . . Richard Mabey, Robert Macfarlane, Tim Dee—as well as with the ethos that informs Geoffrey Hill’s poetry. Davidson’s is a bravely unfashionable book, its cadences relentlessly slow. . . . Belatedness, as Davidson shows us, is the very essence of dusk, of the melancholy light of the fallen world.”

 
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