History of Paradise


3.97 (42 ratings by Goodreads)
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Looking at myth and tradition through the centuries, this is a fascinating and delightful voyage that shows us how Paradise-on-Earth was a reality for some and how those early pilgrimages have shaped our literature and our lives today.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 149.86 x 226.06 x 20.32mm | 408.23g
  • University of Illinois Press
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • Illinois Paperb
  • 0252068807
  • 9780252068805
  • 748,146

Back cover copy

With erudition and wit, Jean Delumeau explores the medieval conviction that paradise existed in a precise although unreachable earthly location. Delving into the writings of dozens of medieval and Renaissance thinkers from Augustine to Dante, Delumeau presents a luminous study of the meaning of Original Sin and the human yearning for paradise.The finest minds of the Middle Ages wrote about where paradise was to be found, what it was like, and who dwelt in it. Explorers sailed into the unknown in search of paradisal gardens of wealth and delight that were thought to be near the original Garden. Cartographers drew Eden into their maps, often indicating the wilderness into which Adam and Eve were cast, along with the magical kingdom of Prester John, Jerusalem, Babel, Ophir, and other places described in biblical narrative or borrowed from other cultures. Later, Renaissance thinkers and writers meticulously reconstructed the details of Eden, providing schedules of the Creation and physical descriptions of Adam and Eve.Even when the Enlightenment gradually banished the dream of paradise on earth, a nostalgia for Eden shaped elements of culture from literature to gardening. In our own time, Eden's hold on the Western imagination continues to fuel questions such as whether land should be conserved or exploited and whether a return to innocence is possible.show more

Review quote

"A revealing and often fascinating history of Western man's conception of a primitive paradise." -- Robert Bireley, Times Literary Supplementshow more

Rating details

42 ratings
3.97 out of 5 stars
5 38% (16)
4 26% (11)
3 31% (13)
2 5% (2)
1 0% (0)
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