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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Two books that I'm excited about reading: A Little History of the World, and The Story of Art

There are a couple of books that I’m excited about delving into.

cover The first is E.H. Gombrich’s A Little History of the World. Written for younger readers, it’s a history of the world beginning with the Heidelberg Jaw (600,000 years ago) and ending with the collapse of Communism (18 years ago). You’ve got to hear this excerpt from the audiobook. It sounds like it came out of a fairy tale, and it will make you want to check it out. Alas, my local library does not have the audiobook, but it does have the book. Check out the table of contents on Amazon to see what’s inside.

cover The other book that I’m looking forward to is the one that the same author is famous for: The Story of Art. It’s the history of art from cave paintings of bison (17,000 years ago) to Jackson Pollock’s One (60 years ago).

Check out the preface and you’ll see why I’m excited about reading it:

This book is intended for all who feel in need of some first orientation in a strange and fascinating field. It may serve to show newcomers the lie of the land without confusing them with details; to enable them to bring some intelligible order into the wealth of names, periods and styles which crowd the pages of more ambitious works, and so to equip them for consulting more specialized books. In writing it I thought first and foremost of readers in their teens who had just discovered the world of art for themselves. But I never believed that books for young people should differ from books for adults except for the fact that they must reckon with the most exacting class of critics, critics who are quick to detect and resent any trace of pretentious jargon or bogus sentiment. I know from experience that these are the vices which may render people suspicious of all writing on art for the rest of their lives. I have striven sincerely to avoid these pitfalls and to use plain language even at the risk of sounding casual or unprofessional.

Other good points:
  • The illustrations are large (often taking up a whole page) and in color.
  • The illustrations are placed near the text that discusses them.
  • Every work discussed has an accompanying illustration.
Most of the Amazon reviews are for the smaller paperback, but I’m not sure if it has 443 color illustrations like the larger hardcover. ↴

E.H. Gombrich’s The Story of Art

E.H. Gombrich’s The Story of Art

Foldout from E.H. Gombrich’s The Story of Art

Nifty foldout of Pollock’s One. ∎


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