What a brilliant notion. Peter Davidson is a passionate cultural historian and his book of night-walks casts a lovely light. A gem. - Tim Dee
Anyone who has felt the mystery, allure and sadness of lighted windows will find their perceptions heightened and new cultural vistas opened by this unusual and beautiful book. It’s both vast and intimate in scope, taut with precise seeing and capacious in its leaps of association. Davidson inhabits the paintings he writes about, moving and feeling with them until there seems no border between pictures and life. Recognition and surprise mingle as we become wanderers in the nights of Europe, Asia and America. It’s a journey to savour. - Alexandra Harris
Homecoming, haunting, nostalgia, desire: these are some of the themes evoked by the beguiling motif of the lighted window in literature and art. In this innovative combination of place-writing, memoir and cultural study, Peter Davidson takes us on atmospheric walks through nocturnal cities in Britain, Europe and North America, and revisits the field paths of rural England.
Surveying a wide range of material, the book extends, chronologically, from early romantic painting to contemporary fiction, and geographically, from the Low Countries to Japan. It features familiar lighted windows in English literature (in the works of poets such as Thomas Hardy and Matthew Arnold and in the novels of Virginia Woolf, Arthur Conan Doyle and Kenneth Grahame) and examines the painted nocturnes of James Whistler, John Atkinson Grimshaw and the ruralist Samuel Palmer. It also considers Japanese prints of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; German romanticism in painting, poetry and music; Proust and the painters of the French belle époque; René Magritte’s L’Empire des Lumières; and North American painters such as Edward Hopper and Linden Frederick.
By interpreting the interactions of art, literature and geography around this evocative motif, Peter Davidson shows how it has inspired an extraordinary variety of moods and ideas, from the romantic period to the present day.Peter Davidson is Senior Research Fellow of Campion Hall, University of Oxford. His previous books include The Idea of North (2005) and The Last of the Light (2015).
- 224 pages, 234 x 156 mm
- 66 colour illustrations
- ISBN: 9781851245147
- Publication October 2021