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Evening's Empire: A History of the Night in Early Modern Europe (New Studies in European History) Paperback – 30 Jun 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (30 Jun. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521721067
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521721066
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.3 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 466,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

'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 [thought-provoking] 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 night time. 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

'Ambitious … a valuable study, and a genuinely supranational one, of the way in which nightlife in the modern sense was created, as the essentially urban phenomenon it remains. It was, as the author clearly shows, one expression of the increasing self-confidence and aggression of early modern European humanity.' Ronald Hutton, The Times Higher Education Supplement

'Sometimes the most obvious and important historical subjects are among the least explored … Craig Koslofsky's thoughtful and imaginative study of the experience of the night for early modern people goes some way towards redressing that balance. It is, in a word, enlightening.' Literary Review

'Craig Koslofsky has given so much in this consistently stimulating, cogently argued and elegantly written book.' Tim Blanning, The Times Literary Supplement

'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 Magazine

'Evening's Empire offers a fertile and richly European account of deep and sometimes unexpected cultural associations … This is a valuable contribution to the history of the everyday and, especially, of the experience of temporality.' History Today

'Any book worthy of the Longman/History Today prize should be elegantly written, exhaustively researched, profoundly original and methodologically bold. Craig Koslofsky's Evening's Empire is all of these … [it] is worthy of the widest possible audience, a work that stands alongside that of Jurgen Habermas in the light it sheds on our understanding of the transformation of the public sphere and the origins of modernity.' History Today

'… 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.' H-France Review (h-france.net)

'… 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

Book Description

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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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Richard Magrath on 12 Dec. 2012
Format: Paperback
I haven't reviewed any books on Amazon for years, but thought it was a shame that Koslofsky's masterful history of the night ("N-i-g-h-t night", I would find myself explaining to friends, as I cited yet more nuggets from the book for them) has only three stars. This is a brilliant book that well deserved to win the Longman-History Today prize, and I enjoyed it as much as I could have hoped for.

Is it difficult? In a couple of sections towards the end it does become a bit social-sciency - and I'm not sure it's a huge loss that drunken violence and robbery was forced out of the public sphere at night during the 17th-18th century - but this does not reflect the majority of the book. It is not quite as readable as a straightforward narrative history, but it's hardly the sort of dense academic text of which you can manage no more than a page a day.

Is it a dry work? Not at all - one professional reviewer remarked (I think it was in the BBC history magazine), there is a fascinating fact on almost every page.

This is not really a narrative history, but has more of a narrative than you might expect. Essentially, the upheavals of the Reformation undermine the old medieval contrast of night=bad, day=good (leading to some fine mystical theology); meanwhile the secular rulers try and demonstrate their power by lighting up the night; 'nightlife' then spreads from the aristocrats to the middle-classes, who use this newly available time and space to invent the Enlightenment and science and Blackadder the Third. At the same time, the rural night is harder to conquer, and older customs and attitudes survive (although you might want to keep out of the forrest after sun-down...
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Davies on 4 Sept. 2012
Format: Paperback
This is a very insightful and unusual book about changing attitudes to the night in Europe between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. I found the sections on the night at court, the rise of street lighting, the colonisation of the urban night, and the attempts to colonise the rural night particularly interesting. The ironic attachment of organised religion to ghosts and witches - because scepticism of these might lead to atheism - is also well laid out. The book combines narrative and anecdote with some fairly hefty analysis, which is where things can get tough.

Koslofsky makes few concessions to the casual reader, making regular use of academic terminology without any explanation or simplification to assist the non-expert. Key concepts are introduced with a few pithy sentences - which must be great if you are a historian but often left me floundering and in need of further elaboration. This can make the book somewhat hard going, especially in the sections on religious attitudes to the night and 'darkness and the enlightenment'. At times, it feels as though the book is aimed entirely at an academic readership and is not meant for the general reader at all. References to other studies can be confusing, as it is often not clear (to this layman) whether the author is referring to a contemporaneous or modern view. There is also a fair bit of repetition, which makes me wonder whether this was originally a series of separate essays that have been stitched together.

Still, this is worth a look if you want a different perspective on the life of people living in the early modern period. Just don't expect to have your hand held.
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By E. A. M. Clark on 16 Sept. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This history book is laid out with chapter-summaries at the beginning of each chapter, making it easy for you to find a particular topic
or reference.It's nicely illustrated , and very readable( mostly) but is just a wee bit too pedantic in places for the general reader . A version without the notes would probably sell well!
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By jane b on 16 Feb. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
really skilled mind gives a lot of knowlage on different things to do with religion . im only half way through . im taking my time with it its a lot for me to soak in.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Janis Cruse on 21 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book, "Evening's Empire" was a terrible disappointment. After the review in History Today I expected a really interesting book.
It turned out to be a disertation...poorly written and with no clear line of thought.
Very disapointing!
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