Portraiture and British Gothic Fiction, The Rise of Picture Identification, 1764-1835 by Kamilla Elliott, Johns Hopkins UPress '12, $60, 336 pages, ASIN #1421407175. Index, bibliography, notes, b&w images sprinkled through text.
"Picture identification has been for millenia bound up with authority and entitlement: with access to spaces, resources, and privileges -- and with denying assess to these...," writes author Kamilla Elliott in the Introduction to her new work.
"While narratives of picture identification can be read in many ways, my research indicates that their most prominent function in Britain between 1764 and 1835 was to support the ascendancy of the ordinary middle classes in competition with the aristocratic, honorific, and wealthy middle classes, which had been represented by named portraits for centuries." Shortly after this time span came photography, which would complete the identification process, but that is beyond the scope of Ms. Elliott's book.
Kamilla Elliott is senior lecturer at Lancaster University and author of Rethinking the Novel/Film Debate.
Britain Begins by Barry Cunliffe, Oxford UPress paperback in oversized format on glossy stock, $29.95, '13, ASIN #0199679452. Index, illustration sources, guide to further reading, b&w and color images sprinkled through text.
"Most, if not all, civilizations have myths," writes archaeologist Barry Cunliffe, in his new book. "Whether they mythologize the passage of time, the weather or their biological origins, human tribes have always had a tendency to embellish the boring facts of life with powerful, fictitious stories. However, as time progresses and scientific advancements afford us more definite perspectives on biological and social evolution; our reliance on myth diminishes in lieu of historical truth."
Cunliffe details "the monstrous disruptions and environmental changes the early settlers of Britain had to endure, like near tidal-waves on the coast of Scotland and a 20-year winter that froze the ground six-feet deep. The dogged conditions they suffered make the threat of modern-day climate change look obsolete."
In the author's sweeping survey of the first settlements in early Britain, he details who the first British islanders were, what they looked like, where they came from, and how they interacted with each other; the most current DNA and archaeological methods that trace the origins of the first settlers; early Britain/Ireland's rich mythology; and "the migration, social relations, conflicts, economies, and ideas of the early British and Irish people."
Author Barry Cunliffe is a renowned scholar and archaeologist. For 35 years, he was professor of European archaeology at Oxford University and wrote Facing the Ocean: the Atlantic and its Peoples.
The Discovery of Middle Earth -- Mapping the Lost World of the Celts, by Graham Robb, Norton '13, $28.95, 387 pages, ASIN #039308163X. Geographical index, general index, works cited, notes, chronology, b&w images sprinkled through text..
From the inside front cover:
"Fifty generations ago the cultural empire of the Celts stretched from the Black Sea to Ireland and the Highlands of Scotland. In 600 years, the Celts had produced some of the finest artistic and scientific masterpieces of the ancient world. In 58 BC, Julius Caesar marched over the Alps, bringing slavery and genocide to western Europe. Within eight years the Celts of what is now France were utterly annihilated, and in another hundred years, the Romans had overrun Britain. It is astonishing how little remains of this great civilization.
"While planning a bicycling trip along the Heraklean Way, the ancient route from Portugal to the Alps, Graham Robb discovered a door to that forgotten world -- a beautiful and precise pattern of towns and holy places based on astronomical and geometrical measurements: this was the three-dimensional 'Middle Earth' of the Celts. As coordinates and coincidences revealed themselves across the continent, a map of the Celtic world emerged as a miraculously preserved archival document."
Author Graham Robb is the author of three prize-winning biographies, each one selected as a New York Times Best Book. His most recent works, The Discovery of France and Parisians, have earned several awards. Robb lives on the Anglo-Scottish border.