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Sinking the Atlantis Myth
Lost Continents by L.Sprague de Camp
© 2012 James LaFond
The Atlantis Theme in History Science, and Literature
L. Sprague de Camp, Dover, 1970 [first edition 1954], 348 pages 17 maps and illustrations
1/20/2015 Update
In this critical survey of pseudo-scientific literature [largely of the 1920s] the author demolishes much of the bogus 'New Age' theology of the time, which was actually closely related to the fiction of Howard and others, who he quotes and cites. His point was that taking ideas or concepts like racial memory, chosen races of people, sorcery, and sinking continents, out of their mythic context and placing them in current hierarchal cults pollutes their value and violates their spirit.
One of the coolest things about this book is that it was originally written in 1948, was serialized in a magazine, and then finally released in 1954, and again in 1970. I bought it in the mid 1980s and have not read it until now. This is clear proof that a suitably mismanaged library is its owner’s own potential archeological dig. This book, in particular, is a good example of how solid research can result in a book that will hold up for generations. Even when some of the disciplines upon which he might be dependent [like geology in this case] are not fully developed in his time, such an author can still produce a work of lasting relevance. By contrast, other, fanciful books on the same subject will not long remain relevant.
L. Sprague de Camp was a prolific writer of non-fiction, fantasy and science-fiction. This is an appropriate background for an author attempting to untangle the complex web of myth and pseudo-science that is Atlantis. The author’s style is engaging and his investigation is exhaustive. If you are not fascinated by the Atlantis question, the book still has plenty to offer. If you are a skeptic, sci-fi reader, history buff, or are interested in the investigation of modern occultism or propaganda, this will have something to interest you.
As a sci-fi writer, I was thrilled by Chapter 11: Evening Isles Fantastical. This chapter is essentially a survey and review of dozens of Atlantis inspired works of fiction written in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. If you are a writer, and you would like to research a subject in preparation for doing a work of fiction, I highly recommend this book as an example of the necessary process.
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