Magazine article Geographical

Flood: Nature and Culture

Magazine article Geographical

Flood: Nature and Culture

Article excerpt

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FLOOD: Nature and Culture

by John Withington

Reaktion Books, pg, 14.95 [pounds sterling]

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As the UK battles one of the wettest winters on record, the arrival of this title is certainly timely. The latest in the Earth series, which traces the historical and cultural significance of various natural phenomena, Flood provides insights into some of the world's biggest, most deadly floods, their causes and representations in art and literature. After all, floods and the damage, displacement and disease that follow kill more people than any other natural disaster.

Written by a leading 'disaster historian' and journalist, the book's narrative is authoritative, succinct and illuminating, neatly weaving the prominent role of floods in religion and myth, with hard evidence of specific deluges that may have inspired them. The cleansing of humanity and the chance of a fresh start is a recurrent theme in all of the major religions, it seems, and this, combined with the sheer drama of floods, has provided abundant stimulus to art and literature--from Michelangelo's The Deluge in the Sistine Chapel to Emile Zola's The Flood. …

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