The Edge of Memory
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The Edge of Memory : Ancient Stories, Oral Tradition and the Post-Glacial World

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Description

In today's society it is generally the written word that holds the authority. We are more likely to trust the words found in a history textbook over the version of history retold by a friend - after all, human memory is unreliable, and how can you be sure your friend hasn't embellished the facts? But before humans were writing down their knowledge, they were telling it to each other in the form of stories.

The Edge of Memory celebrates the predecessor of written information - the spoken word, tales from our ancestors that have been passed down, transmitting knowledge from one generation to the next. Among the most extensive and best-analysed of these stories are from native Australian cultures. These stories conveyed both practical information and recorded history, describing a lost landscape, often featuring tales of flooding and submergence. These folk traditions are increasingly supported by hard science. Geologists are starting to corroborate the tales through study of climatic data, sediments and land forms; the evidence was there in the stories, but until recently, nobody was listening.

In this book, Patrick Nunn unravels the importance of these tales, exploring the science behind folk history from various places - including northwest Europe and India - and what it can tell us about environmental phenomena, from coastal drowning to volcanic eruptions. These stories of real events were passed across the generations, and over thousands of years, and they have broad implications for our understanding of how human societies have developed through the millennia, and ultimately how we respond collectively to changes in climate, our surroundings and the environment we live in.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 288 pages
  • 135 x 216 x 25.4mm | 430g
  • Bloomsbury Sigma
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 8pp colour plate section and black and white illustrations throughout
  • 1472943287
  • 9781472943286
  • 11,138

Review quote

In this sweeping, masterful volume, Nunn stitches together evidence from geology, anthropology, archaeology, linguistics, history and geography to bring to our collective attention the many durable myths and legends of Indigenous oral traditions. If you care about the future of the planet, and our survival on it, The Edge of Memory is a must-read book. -- Chris Gibson, Editor-in-Chief, Australian Geographer, and Professor of Geography, University of Wollongong, Australia Nunn's book is the newest jewel in the recent chain of research showing, through geological verification, that human oral traditions often record real events back 10,000 years and more. He shows that such ancient fact-bearing stories, usually dismissed as "just myths", occur the world around. The book is an engagingly written must-read: I couldn't put it down. -- Elizabeth Wayland Barber, co-author of When They Severed Earth from Sky: How the Human Mind Shapes Myth A very important book that shows how non-literate people preserved their observations of memorable events for as much as ten millennia, and their recollections can also help us to face the challenges of environmental changes today. -- Rita Compatangelo-Soussignan, Professor of Ancient History at Le Mans University, France
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About Patrick Nunn

Patrick Nunn received his PhD from the University of London before spending 25 years teaching and researching at the international University of the South Pacific in Fiji, where he was appointed Professor of Oceanic Geoscience in 1996. He moved to Australia in 2010 to work at the University of New England before being appointed to a research professorship at the University of the Sunshine Coast in 2014.

Patrick has more than 230 peer-reviewed publications to his credit and he has written several books, including Vanished Islands and Hidden Continents of the Pacific, which was named among the `Best of the Best from the University Presses' in 2009 by the American Library Association.
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Rating details

41 ratings
3.78 out of 5 stars
5 20% (8)
4 44% (18)
3 32% (13)
2 5% (2)
1 0% (0)
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