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Sea Shells (Concord Library) Hardcover – 1 Jun 1998


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A beautifully illustrated gift for literary nature lovers
"I look for the first time at this thing I have found. . . . And I am perplexed. Then I ask myself the question: who made this?"

This is the question posed by the French poet-philosopher Paul Valéry in his engaging meditation on the aesthetics of the sea shell. As any beachcomber will attest, sea shells are an endless source of fascination and delight, and Valéry’s 1936 essay glows, as Gaston Bachelard says, with his sense of nature’s "transcendental geometry." Wondering at the enormous variety of shells—the helices, the spirals, the surfaces smooth or encrusted with knobs or spines, the bulbs and concavities, the rugged outsides and the satiny surfaces within—Valéry compares the "making" of human beings with that slow, continuous formation that is the "making" of nature.

Beautifully illustrated with Henri Mondor’s pencil drawings from the 1937 edition, this is a book that will be cherished by all lovers of nature and literature who are engaged by the marvelous abundance of the natural world and eager to revisit "those questions that arise in us before we remember that we are not newborn."

Paul Valéry (1871-1945) was one of the major poets of the twentieth century. His extensive writings in prose range from literary theory and criticism to social and political commentary.


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