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A New World History

Martin Puchner

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21 May 2024
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It shows how art forms have crisscrossed continents over centuries to produce masterpieces. From Nefertiti's lost city and the Islamic Golden Age to twentieth century Nigerian theatre and Modernist poetry, Martin Puchner explores how contact between different peoples has driven artistic innovation in every era - whilst cultural policing and purism have more often undermined the very societies they tried to protect.

Travelling through Classical Greece, Ashoka's India, Tang dynasty China, and many other epochs, this triumphal new history reveals the crossing points which have not only inspired the humanities, but which have made us human.
Imprint:   BONNIER
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 198mm,  Width: 129mm,  Spine: 23mm
Weight:   278g
ISBN:   9781804182543
ISBN 10:   1804182540
Pages:   384
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Martin Puchner, the Byron and Anita Wien Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Harvard University, is an award-winning author, educator, public speaker, and institution builder in the arts and humanities. His writings, which include a dozen books and anthologies and over seventy articles and essays, range from philosophy and theatre to world literature and have been translated into many languages. Through his best-selling Norton Anthology of World Literature and his HarvardX MOOC Masterpieces of World Literature, he has brought four thousand years of literature to audiences across the globe. He is a permanent member of the European Academy.

Reviews for Culture: A New World History

'Eminently readable ... The book's great strength lies in its ability to swoop deftly and lightly between things that may be familiar to us in themselves, but which we might be tempted to separate out in our attempts to form a picture of the world.' -- Edward Wilson-Lee * The Times Literary Supplement * 'A breakneck, utterly captivating survey of threads of cultural transmission-how ideas, stories, and songs-survive, change, vanish, get borrowed, refined, coopted, and grafted through time ... I underlined sentences on every page.' -- Anthony Doerr 'Compellingly written' * Financial Times * 'A remarkable book.' -- Kwame Anthony Appiah 'Martin Puchner has exceptional and invaluable gifts: intellectual fearlessness, dazzling erudition, trenchancy tempered by breadth of mind, and a humanist's eye for minute evidence that illumines huge problems.' -- Felipe Fernandez-Armesto 'Well written, nuanced and light in style, spinning a series of historical narratives in an erudite and engaging way' -- Marguerite Johnson * The Conversation * 'Fearless and exhilaratingly erudite, Martin Puchner's panoramic tour of human culture across the millennia is a riveting page-turner.' -- Amy Chua 'A writer of genius' -- William Dalrymple 'Elegantly written and full of erudite lore, this vibrant history illuminates the inveterate human yearning for expression.' * Publishers Weekly * 'A thoughtful, generous vision of human creativity across centuries of culture.' * Kirkus * 'Fluent and engaging.' -- Boyd Tonkin * Wall Street Journal * 'A mighty, polymathic work . . . [by] a master storyteller -- Chris Vognar * Boston Globe * 'A forceful rebuke to those who argue that culture can be owned by groups, nations, religions or races. . . . [by] an adept storyteller.' -- Ismail Muhammad * New York Times * 'Jaunty and readable but never lacking in depth, Culture hops through countries and eras to deliver a resonant argument.' -- Lauren Puckett-Pope * Elle * 'Cultures develop by sharing, borrowing, and collaborating--but also by conquest, appropriation, and theft. Martin Puchner's timely book takes us on a breathtaking tour of world history, reminding us that as we judge the past, one day we, too, will be judged, and that when we ignore or try to erase our cultural heritage, we are only impoverishing ourselves' -- Louis Menand * Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Metaphysical Club * 'Puchner creates a perfectly balanced and incisively abridged version of the story of human culture. Ultimately, this is an examination of the making and transport of ideas, which is always an interaction between old and new. Each chapter builds a new layer, adding to the depth and complexity, while Puchner also provides a global who's who of cultural diffusion' * Booklist * 'So many books these days are described as being 'sweeping histories'; Culture, which promises in its subtitle to take us from our most primitive artistic impulses all the way to the machinery of modern-day fandom. But what intrigues me most about Puchner's latest isn't its scope - it's its driving question: 'What good are the arts?' In my more hopeless moments, this question bubbles up inside me, and I'm chomping at the bit to hear Puchner's answer, grounded in history and informed by cultures around the world' -- Sophia Stewart

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