The publication of "Lost Worlds" introduces to English-speaking readers one of the most original and engaging historians in Germany today. Known for his work in historical demography, Arthur E. Imhof here branches out into folklore, religion, anthropology, psychology and the history of art. Originally published in Germany in 1984, "Lost Worlds" is similar in approach to Natalie Davis's "The Return of Martin Guerre" and Carlo Ginzburg's "Cheese and the Worms". Imhof begins by reconstructing the world and worldview of Johannes Hooss, a farmer in a remote Hessian village. The everyday life of such a man was particular to his region; he spoke a local dialect and shared a regional culture. By exploring the various systems that made sense out of this circumscribed existence - astrology, the folklore of the seasons, and Christian interpretations of birth, confirmation, marriage and death - Imhof expands the book into a speculation on why life in the late 20th century can seem meaningless and difficult.
Publisher: University of Virginia Press