This wonderful book explores the dramatic change in Western attitude toward the sea and seaside pleasures that occurred between 1750 and 1840. Interest in travel; the arrival of landscape painting, geology, and natural theology; fashions in medicine and the advent of the bathing-machine; the emergence of Romanticism and the Sublime—these are only some of the elements that helped transform perceptions.
There was no sea in the Garden of Eden, and for centuries the Earth’s ocean was looked upon with hostility, as a chaotic remnant of the flood. But by the time Jane Austen wrote Sandition—perhaps the first ‘seaside’ novel—in 1817, the sea and shore had come to be viewed as something intensely and sensuously pleasurable, with beach holidays all the rage in new resorts from Brighton and Scarborough to Dieppe.
“A compact and brilliant taxonomy of the shifting meanings of the sea and shore.”—The New York Review of Books