Nocturne: A Journey in Search of Moonlight


Product Details

University of Chicago Press
Publish Date
5.5 X 8.5 X 0.8 inches | 0.8 pounds

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About the Author

James Attlee is the author of Isolarion: A Different Oxford Journey, also published by the University of Chicago Press. He works in art publishing in London.


"[R]ambling . . . charming . . . spellbinding. . . . As we reel through Attlee's idiosyncratic investigation of his subject--with detours that discuss Mussolini, the Madonna, the Victorian painter Samuel Palmer--he provides a magpie assortment of facts. . . . Modern man, in Attlee's view, has done his best to ignore moonlight. And man will continue to vanquish it--at least until the power runs out. Attlee makes us question such folly. His journey has no final destination, just many stops along a path that could--and should--unwind for a lifetime. In this way, Nocturne is an inspiration. It makes you want to pull a chair out into the garden and bathe in the moonlight. No questions asked."

--Domionique Brown "New York Times Book Review"
Attlee is a true enthusiast, and is fascinated by, indeed loves, his subject. He writes beautifully and often thrillingly about the moon in all its--her?--aspects, and it will be a dull-minded reader who comes away from this book without a new or at least renewed regard for the extraordinary, silver satellite that is our world's constant companion--John Banville "Guardian"
One of the things that strikes you is how much pleasure Attlee, an aesthete, amateur astronomer and connoisseur, takes from simply looking. . . . Attlee has a considerable talent for capturing the thrill of historical moments. . . . But Nocturne becomes more than a series of loosely woven vignettes. Attlee's observations of the night sky take on a cumulative weight, forming a kind of guide for good living on Earth: late night walks, the pleasures of looking, the spectacular and forgotten thrills of natural phenomena, how we might find profound pleasure in the here and now we have overlooked.--Adam O'Riordan "Sunday Telegraph"

One would be hard-pressed to find a better tour guide than English writer James Attlee. On his global quest for moonlight, he has a gentle sense of humor and an even temper when clouds and rain botch his well-laid plans. Best of all, he is perpetually illuminating about what the moon has meant to humans through the centuries.

--Jan Gardner "Boston Globe"
Attlee is a congenial writer, consistently readable, erudite yet modest. . . . Nocturne is never less than absorbing: moonlight may be tenuous stuff but there's a lot of matter here.--Jan Gardner "Financial Times"
In twenty-five short essays, Nocturne charts Attlee's quest to rediscover the moon, not only through travel, but also through mysticism, literature, and art. . . . Nocturne is a trove of poetic descriptions.--Jan Gardner "Bookforum"

A stellar appreciation for the myriad quantifiable and amorphous attributes that have made the moon a source of magic and wonder through the ages.

--Jan Gardner "Library Journal"

Nocturne is an enchanting moonlit sojourn born of wisdom and celestial wonder.

--A. Roger Ekirch, author of At Day's Close: Night in Times Past "Library Journal"

Nocturne is a charming book, filled with hundreds and thousands of facts and stories about the moon, not one of which we really need to know but nearly all of which are fascinating. As a result we close the book enriched, with a pocket full of change we can spend wherever we want.

--Dave Hickey, author of The Invisible Dragon: Seven Essays on Beauty "Library Journal"

"This is a winner of a book. A luminous meditation on moon-glow and moon-glade and the sub-lunar landscape seen only by glimmer-struck savants."

--John R. Stilgoe, author of Outside Lies Magic: Regaining History and Awareness in Everyday Places "Library Journal"
Nocturne is a compendious, moving and impassioned guide to the heavenly body that its author calls, in a perfect metaphor, the 'Garbo of the skies.'--John R. Stilgoe, author of Outside Lies Magic: Regaining History and Awareness in Everyday Places "Irish Times"