Cover image for Acquainted with the night : excursions through the world after dark
Acquainted with the night : excursions through the world after dark
Dewdney, Christopher, 1951-
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Bloomsbury : Distributed to the trade by Holtzbrinck Publishers, [2004]

Physical Description:
313 pages ; 22 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR9199.3.D48 Z46 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



A gorgeously written exploration of the twelve hours of night.

We prepare for it each evening, and spend half our lives in its embrace, yet night retains its mysteries. In Acquainted with the Night , author Christopher Dewdney takes readers on a fascinating journey through the nocturnal realm. Twelve chapters correspond to the twelve hours of an "ideal" night, starting at 6PM and ending at 6AM, and serve as points of departure for night's central themes: sunsets, nocturnal animals, bedtime stories, festivals of the night, fireworks, nightclubs, astronomy, sleep and dreams, the graveyard shift, ladies of the night, the art of night, and endless nights. With boundless curiosity, a lyrical, intimate tone, and an eye for nighttime beauties both natural and manmade, Dewdney paints a captivating portrait of our hours in darkness.

Author Notes

Christopher Dewdeny was born May 9, 1951. He has been nominated for the Governor General's Award three times, twice for poetry, once for non-fiction.

Dewdney currently teaches creative writing at Calumet College at York University and serves as an Academic Advisor. He has won first prize in the CBC Literary Competition for poetry and is currently a contributing media panelist on TVOntario's Studio 2.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Noted Canadian writer Dewdney (The Immaculate Perception) celebrates the science, religion and art of night in a delightful compendium that charts the nocturnal phases-planetary, human and animal-of life. Dewdney writes confidently about the physics underlying sunset, darkness, lunar phases and the dimensions of night. He explores global culture's nighttime customs and associations found in bedtime stories, festivals, fireworks, sexuality, the gothic imagination, ancient myth and stargazing, among other traditions and practices. He makes several journalistic excursions: studying the work of a pyrotechnical team, accompanying a Toronto constable on night watch and offering himself as a sleep laboratory subject. Through close readings of classic bedtime stories, Dewdney perceptively analyzes childhood's special relation to night, home and security. Yet he also spends time in the adult precincts of nightlife, limning brief histories of cabaret and prostitution before describing the contemporary nightclubbing scene. A fascinating history of street lighting links it to changes in policing methods and attitudes to crime. Night is a tactile realm, Dewdney reminds the reader. Nostalgic for organic purity, he bemoans the lack of true darkness in our overlit modern world. He reports on how light pollution disturbs our circadian rhythms and how sleep deprivation can ruin one's long-term health. Dewdney is careful to thoroughly elucidate the basic neuroscience of the dreaming mind. His summarized history of dream interpretation includes Mesopotamian myth, Vedic lore, Native American and ancient Chinese and Greek theories, as well as Freud and Jung. Tautly written in a highly condensed yet personable voice, this tour of the manifold nocturnal realm is a superbly meticulous feat. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Dewdney, a prize-winning Canadian poet and nonfiction author (Last Flash), ruminates widely on the night, incorporating autobiography, history, folklore, scientific theories, and the sentiments of well-known poets from John Milton to Pablo Neruda. In 12 chapters, each corresponding to an hour between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., he treats themes like sunsets, nocturnal animals, bedtime stories, festivals of the night, fireworks, nightclubs, astronomy, sleep and dreams, the graveyard shift, ladies of the night, and endless night. Encyclopedic in scope, the book would have held great appeal for Leopold Bloom or his creator, James Joyce, to whose Ulysses it bears a superficial structural resemblance. The structure has the advantage of allowing Dewdney to hop from one discipline to another, mixing personal observation with detailed research, but it may limit his audience. Will the reader who enjoys the section on prostitution appreciate Dewdney's observations on astronomy? Most useful for larger public libraries.-William Gargan, Brooklyn Coll. Lib., CUNY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

1 First Nightp. 1
2 The Gardens of the Hesperides: Sunset--6 P.M.p. 17
3 A Thousand Eyes: Nature at Night--7 P.M.p. 43
4 The Children's Hour--8 P.M.p. 73
5 Trip the Night Fantastic: The City at Night--9 P.M.p. 87
6 Fire in the Night: Nocturnal Festivals--10 P.M.p. 118
7 The Night Within: The Body at Night--11 P.M.p. 136
8 Empire of Dreams--12 A.M.p. 158
9 Things That Go Bump in the Night--1 A.M.p. 180
10 Stargazing: The Mythology and Science of the Night Sky--2 A.M.p. 205
11 Insomnia--3 A.M.p. 247
12 Endless Nights--4 A.M.p. 264
13 The Art of Darkness--5 A.M.p. 280
14 Night's Last Standp. 298
Acknowledgmentsp. 303
Bibliographyp. 304
Indexp. 306