This book explores the sea and its meanings from ancient myths to contemporary geopolitics, from Atlantis to the Mediterranean migrant crisis. Richard Hamblyn traces a cultural and geographical journey from estuary to abyss, beginning with the topographies of the shoreline and ending with the likely futures of our maritime environments. Along the way the book considers the sea as a site of work and endurance, of story and song, of language, leisure and longing. By considering the sea as both a physical and a cultural presence, the book shines new light on the sea and its indelible place in the human imagination.
Richard Hamblyn is a lecturer in the department of English, Theatre and Creative Writing at Birkbeck, University of London. An award-winning environmental writer and historian, his previous books include The Invention of Clouds (2001), Terra: Tales of the Earth (2009), The Art of Science (2011), Extraordinary Weather (2012) and Clouds and Tsunami in the Earth series.
"A whirlwind tour of the world's seas and oceans [...] from oceanography and marine biology to the specialist language of seafarers to the sea as it is represented in art, music, film and literature, to a dire warning of the sea's vulnerability to anthropogenic global warming, overfishing, and the eternal life of plastics tossed unthinkingly into the sea [...] What makes The Sea rare is Richard Hamblyn's intellectual agility, his capacity to write freshly (and with extraordinary economy) about everything he touches on. He holds my interest and admiration throughout this gorgeously illustrated book."
– Jonathan Raban, author of Passage to Juneau: A Sea and Its Meanings and editor of The Oxford Book of the Sea