A. Roger Ekirch's book releasing to rave reviewsIntrigued?
Blacksburg, Va., June 6, 2005 -- A. Roger Ekirch, professor of history in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech, unveils the mysterious history of night in this meticulously investigated book of how we survived in the centuries before electric lighting. Based on 20 years of detailed archival research, At Day's Close: Night in Times Past (W.W. Norton, 2005) is an enthralling, compelling study of the darker side of human history.
Ekirch writes in his preface: “Darkness, for the greater part of humankind, afforded a sanctuary from everyday life, the chance, as shadows lengthened, for men and women to express inner impulses and realize repressed desires both in their waking hours and in their dreams, however innocent or sinister in nature. A time, fundamentally of liberation and renewal, night gave free reign to the goodhearted as well as the wicked.”
At Day’s Close spans from the late Middle Ages to the early 19th century, and is divided into four separate parts. The first section of the book, “In the Shadow of Death,” focuses on the dangers to both body and soul that the night could bring. Part Two, “Laws of Nature,” considers both bureaucratic and popular responses to nighttime, such as curfews and watchmen to control and restrict activity. Citizens themselves relied upon magic, Christianity, and natural lore to counter the darkness and safeguard their families. “Benighted Realms,” the third section, investigates the nocturnal retreats of men and women, and analyzes the personal freedom, pleasures, and pursuits that nighttime afforded them. Lastly, Part Four, “Private Worlds,” unearths ancient bedtime rituals, sleep patterns, and midnight revelations.
This is one of those off-the-wall topics that leads one to wonder, "Where on earth did Mr. Ekirch get the idea to write a book about night?"
I love it.