Darkness: A Cultural History
by Nina Edwards (Author)
Darkness divides and enlivens opinion. Some are afraid of the dark, or at least prefer to avoid it, and there are many who dislike what it appears to stand for. Others are drawn to this strange domain, delighting in its uncertainties, lured by all the associations of folklore and legend, by the call of the mysterious and of the unknown. The history of our attitudes toward darkness—toward what we cannot quite make out, in all its physical and metaphorical manifestations—challenges the very notion of a world that we can fully comprehend.
In this book, Nina Edwards explores darkness as both a physical feature and cultural image, through themes of sight, blindness, consciousness, dreams, fear of the dark, night blindness, and the in-between states of dusk or fog, twilight and dawn, those points or periods of obscuration and clarification. Taking us across the ages, from the dungeons of Gothic novels to the concrete bunkers of Nordic Noir TV shows, Edwards interrogates the full sweep of humanity’s attempts to harness and suppress the dark first through our ability to control fire and, later, illuminate the world with electricity. She explores how the idea of darkness pervades art, literature, religion, and our everyday language. Ultimately, Edwards reveals how darkness, whether a shifting concept or palpable physical presence, has fed our imaginations.