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Imagining Atlantis

Imagining Atlantis

Paperback Vintage

By (author) Richard Ellis

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  • Publisher: Vintage Books
  • Format: Paperback | 322 pages
  • Dimensions: 132mm x 203mm x 17mm | 313g
  • Publication date: 2 March 2000
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0375705821
  • ISBN 13: 9780375705823
  • Edition statement: Vintage Books ed
  • Illustrations note: 46 illustrations, 5 maps
  • Sales rank: 590,820

Product description

Ever since Plato created the legend of the lost island of Atlantis, it has maintained a uniquely strong grip on the human imagination. For two and a half millennia, the story of the city and its catastrophic downfall has inspired people--from Francis Bacon to Jules Verne to Jacques Cousteau--to speculate on the island's origins, nature, and location, and sometimes even to search for its physical remains. It has endured as a part of the mythology of many different cultures, yet there is no indisputable evidence, let alone proof, that Atlantis ever existed. What, then, accounts for its seemingly inexhaustible appeal? Richard Ellis plunges into this rich topic, investigating the roots of the legend and following its various manifestations into the present. He begins with the story's origins. Did it arise from a common prehistorical myth? Was it a historical remnant of a lost city of pre-Columbians or ancient Egyptians? Was Atlantis an extraterrestrial colony? Ellis sifts through the "scientific" evidence marshaled to "prove" these theories, and describes the mystical and spiritual significance that has accrued to them over the centuries. He goes on to explore the possibility that the fable of Atlantis was inspired by a conflation of the high culture of Minoan Crete with the destruction wrought on the Aegean world by the cataclysmic eruption, around 1500 b.c., of the volcanic island of Thera (or Santorini). A fascinating historical and archaeological detective story, Imagining Atlantis is a valuable addition to the literature on this essential aspect of our mythohistory. "From the Hardcover edition."

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Author information

Richard Ellis is the author of seven previous books, including "The Book of Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises, Monsters of the Sea, " and "Deep Atlantic." He is also a celebrated marine artist whose paintings have been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world, and has written and illustrated articles for numerous magazines, including "Audubon, Reader's Digest, National Geographic, " and "Scientific American." He lives in New York City. "From the Hardcover edition."

Review quote

From the "N.Y. Times Book Review" a front cover welcome for Richard Ellis' "Entertaining, thorough account" of the lost island of Atlantis, the legend of whose downfall was created by Plato and has for two and a half millennia fascinated everyone from Francis Bacon to Jules Verne to Jacques Cousteau and the mythmakers of many cultures. Quite simply the best book on Atlantis ever written...Anyone interested in lost civilizations should look no further.--Brian Fagan, "Los Angeles Times" Ellis takes us on a magnificent journey that leads us to a better understanding of earthquakes, tsunamis, flood myths, volcanology, architecture, archaelogy, the works of Jules Verne and Arthur Conan Doyle...A real treat--Daniel McMahon, "Washington Post" Engaging, lucid, and full of lore--"The New Yorker" "From the Hardcover edition."

Editorial reviews

In this survey of Atlantis theories, Ellis (Monsters of the Sea, 1994, etc.) explains and then pokes holes in previous conjectures - from the scientifically grounded to the plain crazy - before tendering a few of his own It is all Plato's fault, suggests Ellis - the mare's nest of literature, philosophy, geology, archaeology, oceanography, ancient history, mythology, art history, mysticism, cryptology, and fantasy that can be summed up in the word "Atlantology." A few mentions of that fabulous island in his Critias and Timaeus, and 2,500 years later we still haven't heard the end of it. Ellis covers here the whole gamut of Atlantis explanations, compares them to a strict reading of Plato's story, and proceeds to dismember them all. The more outlandish, like paranormal Edgar Cayce and occultist Madame Blavatsky, are easy to dismiss as they have no truck with Plato (not to mention their general lunacy); same goes for notions locating Atlantis in the Crimea, the Sahara, and central France. Jules Verne and Arthur Conan Doyle were in it for the entertainment value; even reputable (or not so reputable) investigators and cognoscenti like Francis Bacon, Ignatius Donnelly, Charles Pellegrino, Spyridon Marinatos, and Angelos Galanopoulos display instances of "rash assumption, hasty conclusions, circular reasoning, and argument based purely on rhetoric." And his points are all well taken: Hold tree to Plato's tale - no fiddling around with the numbers, no monkeying with the geography - and all their speculations smell like three-day-old fish. As for Ellis's thoughts on Atlantis: "I think it was entirely Plato's creation," that the story is likely a parable for the demise of Periclean Athens, its magical detailing plucked from contemporaneous regional sources: the architecture perhaps from the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, the geologic catastrophe from the Helice earthquake of 373 B.C. Just so: another corrupt civilization flooded into oblivion, a story as old as time. Of course, Atlantis is still lost, Ellis wags his head, perhaps a tad smugly. And it always will be. So stop looking, except in your imagination. (Kirkus Reviews)

Flap copy

Ever since Plato created the legend of the lost island of Atlantis, it has maintained a uniquely strong grip on the human imagination. For two and a half millennia, the story of the city and its catastrophic downfall has inspired people--from Francis Bacon to Jules Verne to Jacques Cousteau--to speculate on the island's origins, nature, and location, and sometimes even to search for its physical remains. It has endured as a part of the mythology of many different cultures, yet there is no indisputable evidence, let alone proof, that Atlantis ever existed. What, then, accounts for its seemingly inexhaustible appeal? Richard Ellis plunges into this rich topic, investigating the roots of the legend and following its various manifestations into the present. He begins with the story's origins. Did it arise from a common prehistorical myth? Was it a historical remnant of a lost city of pre-Columbians or ancient Egyptians? Was Atlantis an extraterrestrial colony? Ellis sifts through the "scientific" evidence marshaled to "prove" these theories, and describes the mystical and spiritual significance that has accrued to them over the centuries. He goes on to explore the possibility that the fable of Atlantis was inspired by a conflation of the high culture of Minoan Crete with the destruction wrought on the Aegean world by the cataclysmic eruption, around 1500 b.c., of the volcanic island of Thera (or Santorini). A fascinating historical and archaeological detective story, Imagining Atlantis is a valuable addition to the literature on this essential aspect of our mythohistory. "From the Hardcover edition.