Weatherland: Writers and Artists Under English Skies

Alexandra Harris. Thames & Hudson, $40 (432p) ISBN 978-0-500-51811-3
Harris follows up Romantic Moderns, winner of the Guardian First Book Award, with this edifying and rigorous tour of English literature and painting in terms of its depiction of weather. The premise may initially seem quirky and slight, but the author is a brilliant guide and makes a persuasive case for examining how art looks at the skies. She takes readers through the frozen world of early Anglo-Saxon poetry, Shakespeare’s tales of winter and midsummer, and the contrast between Jane Austen’s characters, who hide indoors from the weather, and Emily Brontë’s, who wander out onto the moors to experience it. Throughout, Harris proves a scrupulously close reader of prose and poetry, with an equally insightful eye for paintings. But this is no mere stuffy lit-crit slog: the narrowness of subject affords a deliciously broad scope for mining the rich depths of English letters and art, scientific development, cultural history, religion, and philosophy. The sumptuous reproductions of artworks are worth the price of admission all by themselves. With her keen eye for detail and astonishing ability to trace connections, Harris will change how readers view their relationships to art and the world around them. Agent: Caroline Dawnay, United Agents (U.K.). (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 11/23/2015
Release date: 02/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 432 pages - 978-0-500-77318-5
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