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Om forfatteren

Graham Robb's two previous books, "Victor Hugo" & "Balzac," were "New York Times" Notable Books. He lives in Oxford, England. (Bowker Author Biography)

Omfatter også følgende navne: G. Robb, Robb Graham, גרהם רוב

Image credit: Jerry Bauer.

Værker af Graham Robb

Associated Works

Far Goriot (1835) — Introduktion, nogle udgaver5,939 eksemplarer
Bristede forhåbninger (-0001) — Introduktion, nogle udgaver2,455 eksemplarer
Havets Arbejdere (1866) — Introduktion, nogle udgaver1,264 eksemplarer
Baudelaire (1987) — Oversætter, nogle udgaver59 eksemplarer

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If you’re looking for stories with details on iron age life and the magical acts performed by Druids, you will be disappointed with this book. Graham Robb doesn’t promise what he can’t deliver.

But if you are curious about what we now know about the mythological and practical maps that the Celts used to map Gaul, Britain, and Ireland, he can help you out. And he knows what he’s talking about because he first realized that hints at the Iron Age Celtic world still exist in the landscape of these places today.

Using solar routes, longitude and latitudes, and Celtic myths, Robb draws up places either long disappeared or buried beneath more recent history. Taken together, they provide maps of a world long gone. The Celtic world he has discovered is based on myth, yes. But more importantly, it’s based on math, including a geometry different from the Euclidean geometry of the classic world.

While I sometimes found this book difficult to follow, the glimpses I got were fascinating. The ancient Celts weren’t the unsophisticated, hairy brutes the Romans portrayed them to be. They were different, but in their own way, just as intelligent as the Romans who defeated them.

I recommend this book to anyone genuinely curious about ancient Celtic cultures. While they didn’t leave written accounts to satisfy our curiosity, what Graham Robb teases out of the rubble provides a tantalizing peek and much fodder for the imagination. I'd give this book 3.5 stars if I could. It's a good book, though sometimes hard to follow.
… (mere)
Library_Lin | 12 andre anmeldelser | Apr 12, 2023 |
Excerpt from longer article:
Timely Take-aways for Life-Long Learning: History of Place
Whether exploring the history of remote mountain regions or telling the story of a city through its people, these new works of nonfiction explore how five places around the world evolved over time.

France: An Adventure History
Graham Robb, July 2022, W.W. Norton & Company, and imprint of W.W. Norton
Themes: History, Europe, France
Balancing fascinating historical information with humorous anecdotes, Robb’s amazing narrative reflects decades of research and exploration of France’s urban and rural areas.
Take-aways: Use this book as an example of the connection between history and travel. Use the author’s adventures to encourage students to think about places they’d like to visit and explore in-depth.
… (mere)
eduscapes | 1 anden anmeldelse | Mar 30, 2023 |
I found this book to be slightly maddening. At its heart, I think there are some probable truths....that sacred sites and even cities were located by Celtic or Druid Priests on lines which tallied with solar measurements ....especially the winter and summer equinoxes. But the author goes much further than this and draws all sorts of lines on his (Mercator projection) maps and finds mysterious linkages with all sorts of ancient cities and sacred sites. As he says, towards the last few pages: "geomantic expeditions are not for the neurotically disposed'.....having just plotted on a meridian, the restaurant where he'd had a discussion to the left-luggage office at St Pancreas Station where his bicycle had completed its journey. The whole book smacks of a theory in search of coincidences which would confirm the theory. Rather like numerology. I was interested in the map of Britain on p 282 where a large number of early christian sites had been plotted. Over this Robb has plotted a few of his Royal Roads and solstice lines. Yes they pass through a number of the christian sites but there seem to be a huge number that are not related. So what can one conclude from all of this?
Well, first, Graham Robb has put a power of work into his various pathways and plots and has personally ridden many of these routes on his bicycle...especially in France. And for this he has to be given credit. But what I continue to find disturbing, is that he pretty much ignores geography. It's all based on astronomical projections and cities are located not necessarily where nature has located a well endowed site with natural fortifications and access to water but at the intersection of some meridian line (somewhat arbitrarily chosen) and another solstice line that happens to run through another site. Maybe he is right but I wonder about all the other sites that he doesn't mention and wonder whether he is cherry picking his data to suit his theory. A fairer way of doing things might be to come up with a compete listing of all acknowledged sacred sites and see how many of them fell on these astronomically "predictive" lines. If they all fell on the lines then I think he would have a case closed but if he's just cherry picked then he's really proved nothing much.
I have difficulty with his apparent starting point with the route of Herakles...whether you take it from Andorra to the alps or project even further back to the sacred promontory of Sagres in Portugal. His lines look fine when plotted on the modern Mercator projection ...and duly pass through Narbonne and end at the Matrona pass. But they certainly don't do this when plotted on the more accurate Lambert's azimulthal equal area projection of Europe. If you try projecting from Sagres via Andorra you end up far to the south and in the Mediterranean sea. And if you take Andorra as your starting point and project eastwards via Narbonne then you end up far to the north of the alps. So Robb's overly simplistic base lines seem very suspect to me. And even the idea that Druids and Celts had adopted wholesale the legend of Herakles seems rather suspect to me. A big problem with the Druids was that they left no writings so Robb is pretty free to attribute anything to them ....and does. Though he certainly has a much higher opinion of them and their accomplishments than contemporary Roman writers such as Caesar and Polybius.
I found, when I checked, that most of the reviews of the book were very favourable ..."Remarkable...an overarching, wondrous reworking of history" says Phillip Hoare of the Literary Review. In fact, I only found one review which questioned the fairly bold claims made by Robb and the lack of references to back up some of the claims. (Though, to be fair, I think he has done a reasonable job with the references).
Overall, I found it a pretty hard slog to read. And rather repetitive....especially when he runs through the same sort of procedure for Britain (after France) and then Ireland.
I noticed that like many people who are fond of geometrical links (or golden ratios etc.,) that they are prepared to claim somewhat spurious accuracy. For example, his lines superimposed on an image of the roundel on p247, don't exactly line up with the centres of the circles etc., and one could....with this sort of diagram pick any point to draw the lines and it would match some feature (with the various spirals) in the actual figure. I remember seeing some similar geometry being applied to a famous Japanese stone garden in Kyoto......but this time using the golden ratio. Superficially it looked fine but only because a particular group of stones was spread over a fair area and so the line could be made to intersect wherever suited the theory best.
OK. I think there is probably some truth in what Robb is saying. Priests and soothsayers did take astronomical readings and oriented activities according to the sun cycles (Stonehenge and the standing stones all over France and Spain testify to this). And, if a new city or sacred site was to be established presumably the priests would be consulted and use their astronomical observations to predict favourable sites. (Certainly this happened with the location of Mexico City and happens today with houses and shinto rites in Japan). Though, I suspect, the priestly incantations etc were probably overlain with a bit of pragmatic local geography. For me, It's hard to know how much of Robb's tales to believe. My impression is that he is over-claiming and cherry picking but without looking in detail for all the other sacred sites (and there must be tens of thousands) and checking to see if they also align with the royal roads and solstice lines ...it's hard to know for sure. But just looking at the map of France on p58 and that of Britain on p282..it seems to me that local geography is at least as important and many of these sites are clearly NOT located on the meridianal lines or equinox lines.
So an interesting book. It has somewhat intrigued me but still have my doubts about people with theories who want to draw lines on maps to suit their theories and look only for supporting evidence and are happy to accept places that are close but not exactly on the lines. I give it 4 stars.
… (mere)
booktsunami | 12 andre anmeldelser | Nov 13, 2022 |
A beautifully written account of male and female homosexuality in the Victorian era, this book provides insights into an time before the liberation movement of the late twentieth century. Divided into three sections there are insights into the shadows and strangers, but also outings and "Heroes of Modern Life."
jwhenderson | 5 andre anmeldelser | Jun 28, 2022 |



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