- Series: New Studies in European History
- Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press (August 8, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0521721067
- ISBN-13: 978-0521721066
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,026,114 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Evening's Empire: A History of the Night in Early Modern Europe (New Studies in European History) Paperback – June 30, 2011
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"Koslofsky's epic history of the night reveals a revolution: how stage lights remade theater, how Lutheran mystics penetrated the night, how witch hunters fought the devil on his own nocturnal turf, how racism mirrored the presumed iniquity of blackness, and how street lights pacified cities. Readers will find surprises on every page."
Edward Muir, Northwestern University
"Koslofsky plays skilfully with the oppositions of light and darkness, day and night, to reveal dramatic changes in both the social and the symbolic worlds of early modern Europeans. This is a sensitive and throught-proviling synoptic study, of very great interest for all students of European society, thought, and culture."
Robin Briggs, University of Oxford
"Evening's Empire is a remarkable foray into a long-neglected dimension of early modern history: Europe's conquest of darkness and nighttime. Craig Koslofsky convincingly proves that the transition to modernity and the emergence of the public sphere cannot be fully understood without taking the 'colonization' of night into account. An enlightening study, in every way."
Carlos M. N. Eire, Yale University
"This is a tremendous read, full of human stories and suggestive argument. Like many of the best history books it makes one pause for thought not only about the past but about the present too."
BBC History Review
"... [a] consistently stimulating, cogently argued and elegantly written book."
Times Literary Supplement
"Koslofsky has mined rich and varied sources - letters, diaries, municipal archives, art, periodicals - from France, Britain, and especially Germany, to produce this engaging and inventive work. He possesses an acute historical understanding - which means that he's ever sensitive to the foreignness of the past."
Ben Schwarz, The Atlantic
"... a triumph of detailed, patient scholarship, clearly and enthusiastically communicated. It imparts considerable subtlety of texture to the fresco of the pre-industrial night so vividly painted by Ekirch in particular. Consequently, it should remain authoritative for decades to come, influencing scholars of literature as well as history."
"This is a sweeping book, and its arguments work best in broad, evocative strokes. Much of the revolution here boils down to discrete changes in elite thought or fashion that then helped to reshape broader culture. Koslofsky is to be commended for stressing the limitations, ambiguities, and sometimes outright dichotomies of such developments, even as he argues for their extraordinary impact."
Michael D. Bailey, Renaissance Quarterly
"... learned and imaginative ..."
Keith Thomas, Common Knowledge
"... this ambitious book is a remarkable achievement, illuminating early modern European history from a new and original perspective ..."
Central European History
This illuminating guide to the night opens up an entirely new vista on early modern Europe. Using diaries, letters, legal records and representations of the night in early modern religion, literature and art, Craig Koslofsky explores the myriad ways in which early modern people understood, experienced and transformed the night.
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Although Koslofsky’s vast array of knowledge and research is impressive and worthy of admiration, his monograph is both disappointing and incomplete. It is disappointing because his book lacks a theoretical argument that makes the concept of ‘night’ a legitimate concept. He does not address adequately whether anyone can really speak meaningfully about night. He does not explain how John of the Cross’ dark night of the soul can be compared to the nightly debaucheries of rural young men. Therefore, his book seems to be nothing more than a collection of interesting and engaging tidbits thrown together under the incredibly vague notion of night. In addition to being disappointing, Koslofsky’s book is also incomplete. In order to speak meaningfully about the night, it is necessary to explain its opposite – the day.
Another disappointing aspect of Koslofsky’s book is that he does not address adequately how his thesis applies only to the early modern period. Scattered throughout his book are various acknowledgments that the lightness-darkness motif is not an early modern invention. The theme is present, he admits, in the early Church as well. He argues that “the early modern authors discussed here inherited an ambiguous image of the night – sharply negative except within the rarified world of mystic expression” (19). The early moderns, his argument continues, built upon this inherited image and used it differently. While he does show that early modern thinkers innovated certain new things, such as nightly court behavior and the development of coffee houses, he does not convincingly show that the difference between the medieval and early modern views of night and darkness is as substantial as he thinks.
Although there are problems with Koslofsky’s theoretical framework, “Evening’s Empire” is still a contribution to the field of early modern history. His work is especially important for intellectual historians. Koslofsky analyzes many theological and philosophical texts with a keen and perceptive eye. For example, Koslofsky makes some insightful connections between John of the Cross and seventeenth-century Protestant theologians; without his concern for the concept of the night, his insights may have been lost. Moreover, Koslofsky shows how philosophical and theological questions do affect popular culture. Thus, his work is important because he unites intellectual and popular culture in a unique and thought-provoking way.