Since humans first gazed upward, the moon has hung in the sky virtually unchanged, entrancing generations of poets, artists and scientists. Once worshipped as a deity, often thought to cause madness, now known to manipulate our tides and much else besides, humanity's relationship with the moon has been ever-changing; the one constant has been our continued fascination with it. Moon: Nature and Culture gives a comprehensive account of our lunar companion's significance, tracing its origins out of a collision with Earth and following its rich cultural resonance in the worlds of literature, art, religion and politics. The moon's story is also humanity's own story: it gave humans the ability to organize time, dividing the year into months and ordaining the dates of festivals such as Easter, Ramadan and the Chinese New Year. Its moderating effect on the earth's spin could mean that without the moon life may never have been able to evolve.
Edgar Williams shows how the interdependence of moon and Earth also finds its unwitting parallel in the realm of culture, where the moon has constantly found it itself embedded in our preoccupations, whether in the worship of Elizabeth I as Diana, moon goddess, or in the long-lived dream that humans will one day populate its surface. Moon: Nature and Culture tells a succinct, witty and informative tale of everything lunar, filled with entertaining anecdotes about what the moon has meant to us.
Edgar Williams is a Reader in Human Physiology at the University of South Wales, UK, and the author of Giraffe (2010) and Ostrich (2012), also published by Reaktion Books.