Volcanic: Vesuvius in the Age of Revolutions
A vibrant, diverse history of Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples in the age of Romanticism.
Vesuvius is best known for its disastrous eruption of 79CE. But only after 1738, in the age of Enlightenment, did the excavations of Herculaneum and Pompeii reveal its full extent. In an era of groundbreaking scientific endeavour and violent revolution, Vesuvius became a focal point of strong emotions and political aspirations, an object of geological enquiry, and a powerful symbol of the Romantic obsession with nature.
John Brewer charts the changing seismic and social dynamics of the mountain, and the meanings attached by travellers to their sublime confrontation with nature. The pyrotechnics of revolution and global warfare made volcanic activity the perfect political metaphor, fuelling revolutionary enthusiasm and conservative trepidation. From Swiss mercenaries to English entrepreneurs, French geologists to local Neapolitan guides, German painters to Scottish doctors, Vesuvius bubbled and seethed not just with lava, but with people whose passions, interests, and aims were as disparate as their origins.
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