Brolliology: A History of the Umbrella in Life and Literature (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

The umbrella. We think of it for rain, but one can also find it in ancient Egypt, a country not known for its rain. Brolliology is a fascinating and idiosyncratic look at the history of an ever-so-useful and practical object. Did you know that, at one time, the umbrella was a sign of poverty? The rich rode in carriages, dispensing with the need for the humble umbrella. The book is richly illustrated and full of wonderful stories of the appearance of the umbrella in literature. There is even a chapter on the umbrella as detritus—having collapsed under the pressure of the weather, it ends its life in the gutter. Pick this book up and learn the long and unique history of this common object. -Greg

— From Winter Gazette 2017


A fun, illustrated history of the umbrella's surprising place in life and literature

Humans have been making, using, perfecting, and decorating umbrellas for millennia--holding them over the heads of rulers, signalling class distinctions, and exploring their full imaginative potential in folk tales and novels.

In the spirit of the best literary gift books, Brolliology is a beautifully designed and illustrated tour through literature and history. It surprises us with the crucial role that the oft-overlooked umbrella has played over centuries--and not just in keeping us dry. Marion Rankine elevates umbrellas to their rightful place as an object worthy of philosophical inquiry.

As Rankine points out, many others have tried. Derrida sought to find the meaning (or lack thereof) behind an umbrella mentioned in Nietzsche's notes, Robert Louis Stevenson wrote essays on the handy object, and Dickens used umbrellas as a narrative device for just about everything. She tackles the gender, class, and social connotations of carrying an umbrella and helps us realize our deep connection to this most forgettable everyday object--which we only think of when we don't have one.

About the Author

Marion Rankine is a London-based writer and bookseller. Her work has appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, the Guardian, Overland, and For Books' Sake, among others.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781612196701
ISBN-10: 1612196705
Publisher: Melville House Publishing
Publication Date: November 7th, 2017
Pages: 192
Language: English