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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars illuminating reading, October 18, 2002
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This review is from: Disenchanted Night: The Industrialization of Light in the Nineteenth Century (Paperback)
This rather obscure book shouldn't be; a very meticulous and perceptive history of an important subject, the history of artificial light, Schivelbusch provides excellent research and, significantly, adds unexpected observations along the way, such as the political dimension of artificial light, light as an expression of statist control. Highly recommended.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Disenchanted Night, June 2, 2008
By 
Sam Adams (Minnesota. USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Disenchanted Night: The Industrialization of Light in the Nineteenth Century (Paperback)
The book has five main sections: The Lamp; The Street; Night Life; The Drawing Room; The Stage. As the publisher's blurb says: "[The author] tells the story of the development of artificial light in the nineteenth century. Not simply a history of a technology, [this book] reveals the ways that the technology of artificial illumination helped forge the modern consciousness."

The first main section, The Lamp, discusses the development of the gas lamp and the consequent municipal control over home gas lighting, as well as the new dangers of explosion and gas poisoning. It proceeds to the development of electric lighting and tells how "Edison developed the central electricity station on the model of the gas-works just as seventy years earlier Winsor had conceived a central gas supply along the lines of the water supply." (64)

The second main section, The Street, is initially more about the sociological effects of the increasing illumination of the urban night, and the relation of street lighting to political power. With the advent of electric street lights, the author focuses again on the technological side, for example, the hopes to use arc lighting as an artificial sun to illuminate an entire city from a single lamp.

The third main section, Night Life, is a brief look at the "lighting of festivity" in contrast to the previous section, which concerned the "lighting of order". (137) Night life "derives its own special atmosphere from the light that falls onto the pavements and streets from shops,... cafes and restaurants.... It is advertising light - commercialized festive illumination - in contrast to street light, the lighting of a police order. Commercial light is to police light what bourgeois society is to the state." (142)

The next main section, The Drawing Room, tells us this room, also called the parlor or living room, remained unlit by electric light in homes using electric light in other rooms. Gas light was diffused through lamp shades, just as sunlight was diffused through muslin window curtains. Later, when electric light entered the drawing room, lamp shades became darker or multi-colored in the manner, for example, of Tiffany, and window curtains became heavier, more opaque, to more severely filter sunlight, and at night to block the entrance of bright lighting from the street.

The final main section, The Stage, tells us there were difficulties getting stage lighting to appear natural. The closer foot light lit brighter than the more distant side lights, giving, as one reviewer wrote, the appearance of light "coming straight from Hell." Being lit from below, the actors looked unnatural, their faces "grotesque masks". Yet it was only within the light of the foot lights that subtle facial expressions could be discerned. Only within this band of light at the front of the stage were the actors most clearly seen. The introduction of electric light removed these difficulties, but this new brighter lighting washed away the illusions previously created by scenery designed to work under dimmer and less pervasive illumination. Color, too, was perceived differently under electric light.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From fire light to near sunlight day and night, July 8, 2008
This review is from: Disenchanted Night: The Industrialization of Light in the Nineteenth Century (Paperback)
Those books that you missed or wished you had read, good books in great shape hardback or paperback.
The industrialization of light follows the need to see in the dark and dust from the flickering fire and torch to the 21st century.
Mankind lost and gained when he went from burning branches to the 21st century lighting. We needed to see well when we started learning how to put nature to work and create knowledge and put it to work. As a person in his eightyfourth year of life, from lil lamps to inflourescent better lighting was a necesity created by an invention. I remember gas lighting but this book filled me in on the things of this great trip that I did not know and helped me understand the stops along the way.

We lost some family togetherness but we gained a foothold on life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating story of Gaslight and Electric Light, filled with amazing details., March 7, 2013
By 
Anne Rice (Palm Desert, California) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Disenchanted Night: The Industrialization of Light in the Nineteenth Century (Paperback)
I've been searching for this kind of book for years. I read almost all of it in one sitting, enthralled by the unfolding story of the invention of gaslight and electric light, and marveling at the wonderful details about how Europeans and Americans responded to these totally revolutionary inventions, and how both helped to transform the world in which we live. I hadn't realized gaslight was invented largely to light factories, that it was an immediate product of the industrial revolution in England on the most basic level, or that its "heyday" (1850-1870) in the cities of the world was so short. The details about arc lamps and attempts to illuminate cities from high towers also surprised me. But the book also contains a wealth of information about the use of light earlier --- how well to do people only used candles up to 1800, for example, and how oil lamps developed afterwards,etc. The descriptions of early shopping streets starting in the 1700's and how they used light, mirrors and eventually (by 1850)plate glass to display their wares were enthralling. ---- The in depth discussions of the psychology of light also fascinated me --- how people respond to flickering flames, how an oil lamp became the focal point of a family gathering much as the primitive hearth had once been the focal point; how people clung to candles and oil lamps in drawing rooms even when they had gaslight in other parts of the house, etc. ---- But I cannot do justice to the richness of this book by listing these things here. This is a brilliant study of people and light on many different levels, and beautifully written and engaging from start to finish. Highly recommended. (Historical novelists will love this book; it will tell them all kinds of things about the world of the last two centuries; it's full of priceless details.)
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanted Lighting, April 29, 2008
By 
Mohe (North Idaho) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Disenchanted Night: The Industrialization of Light in the Nineteenth Century (Paperback)
An amazing book, "Disenchanted Night" begins with the physical constraints, the actual production of light and then takes it through the nature of public order, the idea of shpping and the creation of mass nightlife and off into the theater. Once one has read this book, the nineteenth century will never seem the same and the world before, lit only by fire, is revealed much more strongly.

What is absolutely fascinating in which ideas of public order, commerce, art and even interior decorating are shown to be as much technical artifacts as ideological categories. In a way the sections on Street Lighting and Shops are almost a technological addendum to Bakhtin.

In short: Read this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The industrialization of Light!, December 27, 2013
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This review is from: Disenchanted Night: The Industrialization of Light in the Nineteenth Century (Paperback)
This is a fascinating and scary book documenting the rapid industrialization of light that occured almost before we knew it around the turn of the last century. Very interesting and little known stories, well-researched and written.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating approach, April 20, 2011
By 
PETER (Berry, Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Disenchanted Night: The Industrialization of Light in the Nineteenth Century (Paperback)
This book is quite different from your normal lamp collecting book. It goes deep into the psyche of the people who used or for that matter didn't use artificial light. The development of street lighting is fascinating and shows a world we cannot imagine in this 21st century. Paris in the 17th- 18th century must have been a unique place (glad I am in the 21st century)
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4.0 out of 5 stars This is a super cool book - I imagine it would be very ..., December 15, 2014
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This review is from: Disenchanted Night: The Industrialization of Light in the Nineteenth Century (Paperback)
This is a super cool book - I imagine it would be very helpful to artists doing period set design, or artisans making replicas of antique lamps, etc. Also very interesting information of the role of lighting in wars, police, and home life.
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3 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, May 4, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Disenchanted Night: The Industrialization of Light in the Nineteenth Century (Paperback)
An interesting treatment that focuses on the social aspects of technology, and a useful reminder of way of life that seems long past but is chronologically recent.
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Disenchanted Night: The Industrialization of Light in the Nineteenth Century
Disenchanted Night: The Industrialization of Light in the Nineteenth Century by Wolfgang Schivelbusch (Paperback - December 20, 1995)
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