Lost Worlds | Granta

  • Published: 03/10/2005
  • ISBN: 9781862077980
  • 130x20mm
  • 304 pages

Lost Worlds

Michael Bywater

They go. They vanish. People. Civilizations. Languages. Philosophies. Works of art disappear, species are extinguished, books are lost. Dunwich is drowned, Pompeii buried, Athena’s statue gone from the Parthenon, Suetonius’s Lives of the Great Whores gone the way of the Roman Empire. Whole libraries of knowledge, galleries of secrets. Gone. Little things, too. Train compartments. Snuff, galoshes, smog. Your mother’s perfume. Our culture, our knowledge and all our lives are shadows cast by what went before. We are defined not by what we have but by what we have lost along the way. And so, Lost Worlds: a glossary of the missing, a cabinet of absent curiosities, weaving a web of everything we no longer have. Lost Worlds: the book the book that falls open at every page.

The last remaindered copy should be buried in a time-capsule so that archaeologists of the distant future, rummaging through the radioactive landscape, can dip into the learning that its author wears so lightly and wittily. This intellectually capacious volume includes not just lost souls and bygone artefacts but also existing concepts whose real meaning has disappeared without trace

Jonathan Sale, Independent

Lost Worlds is the best thing about - better than iPods, the first rime of winter, salty porridge, Paula Rego, chocolate bars dusted with cinnamon and the Dandy annual. Mr B writes so well it makes you want to cut your throat with a butter-knife, and yet so enticingly that you keep putting off the fatal act until you've finished the page, and the next one, too. You won't get a better tip from this column all week

Andrew Marr, Daily Telegraph

Wonderfully original, entertaining and occasionally tear-jerking miscellany about life, loss and the human condition ... read this delightfully quirky book and you will find yourself adding to Bywater's list ... but as he reminds us, there are always new wonders coming our way

Val Hennessy, Daily Mail

The Author

Michael Bywater is a writer and broadcaster and wrote for many years the ‘Lost Worlds’ column for the Independent on Sunday. He is the author of several books, including Lost Worlds and Big Babies, both published by Granta Books.

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From the Same Author

Big Babies

Michael Bywater

Have you ever had the feeling that, in some hard to define way, we are throwing away two and a half millennia of Western civilization, bit by bit, as our culture becomes more and more infantile? That day by day we grow more and more focused on the quick fix, the ticking-off, the expedient lie, the jingle, the spin, the catchy slogan, the obsession with safety, the horror of risk, the terror of complexity, the preoccupation with surface, the apportioning of blame, instant gratification? Have you ever wondered what happened to grown-ups? Michael Bywater turns his penetrating eye on the state of Western culture, from politics and the media to show business and science, from the White House to Buckingham Palace, from MTV to the BBC, from mission statements to Viagra spam, and concludes we are all Big Babies now. With enormous brio, he argues that the Baby-Boom generation is now running the show, and its own commitment to perpetual infantility is reflected in its unstoppable drive to infantilize the rest of us.