The Dream of the North

A Cultural History to 1920


Northern Europe and North America have dominated the world stage for more than two centuries. Using a wide range of sources, this book provides the first coherent account from a multi-national perspective of the ideas and perceptions that, from the Renaissance onwards, fuelled the North’s rise to prominence, and enabled it to rival the traditional cultural and political hegemony of the South. This includes not only the fascinating conquest of the polar regions, but also the religious upheaval of the Reformation, the changing view of nature engendered by Romanticism, and, not least, the revival of ancient Nordic and Celtic culture. Finally, the book offers an indispensable historical background to current events in the Far North, where the past and the future meet in a complex web of dramatic environmental concerns, the exploitation of natural resources, and the strategies of politics and commerce.
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“Fjågesund has created a reference book which has earned a place as a standard work for the cultural and social sciences with a northern focus. It is highly recommended especially for Scandinavian Studies institutions.”
– Nikolas Sellheim (University of Lapland), in Polar Record (2014), pp.
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“Every few years, a book comes out which offers -- or purports to offer -- a sweeping overview of the history of Arctic exploration and its historical significance. […]Peter Fjågesund manages this feat, and several others along the way: unlike other recent cultural histories, which -- rejecting the old grand narratives -- have cobbled together in their place a rather lumpy "new North" out of Scandinavian mythology, wandering antiquarians, and stuffed polar bears, Fjågesund is not afraid of large-scale synthesis and broad intellectual history. […]It would be impossible to summarize his entire argument; I can only urge anyone in search of a bolder and more historically sweeping view of the idea of the "North" to read this book.”
– Russell A. Potter, in The Arctic Book Review August (2014)
Full tekst available:
Chapter 1: Finding a Footing: The North before 1700
Chapter 2: Preparing for Take-Off :The Early Eighteenth Century
Chapter 3: The Great Watershed: 1750–1790
Chapter 4: Fastening the Grip: 1790–1830
Chapter 5: The Northern Heyday: 1830–1880
Chapter 6: The Closing Circle: 1880–1920
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