1st Edition

Art and Enchantment How Wonder Works

By Patrick Curry Copyright 2023
    254 Pages
    by Routledge

    254 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book concerns the experience of enchantment in art. Considering the essential characteristics, dynamics and conditions of the experience of enchantment in relation to art, including liminality, it offers studies of different kinds of artistic experience and activity, including painting, music, fiction and poetry, before exploring the possibility of a life oriented to enchantment as the activity of art itself. With attention to the complex relationship between wonder in art and the programmatic disenchantment to which it is often subject, the author draws on the thought of a diverse range of philosophers, sociological theorists and artists, to offer an understanding of art through the idea of enchantment, and enchantment through art. An accessible study, richly illustrated with experience – both that of the author and others – Art and Enchantment will appeal to scholars and students of sociology, anthropology, philosophy, and anyone with interests in the nature of aesthetic experience.


    1. Introduction

    2. What is Enchantment?

    3. Painting I

    4. Painting II

    5. Music I

    6. Music II

    7. Fiction I

    8. Fiction II

    9. Poetry

    10. Conclusion



    Patrick Curry is a tutor in the School of Environment, Archaeology, History and Anthropology at the University of Wales Trinity St David, UK. He is the author of Ecological Ethics: An Introduction and Enchantment: Wonder in Modern Life, and the editor of Divination: Perspectives for a New Millennium. He is also editor-in-chief of the online journal The Ecological Citizen.

    ‘This is a wonderful, and wonder-filled, book. Curry patiently but passionately explores how enchantment returns us to a more elemental relationship with the world through the gifts of art, music, and fiction. Moving seamlessly between theoretical reflection and personal experience, Art and Enchantment also serves as a model for a living criticism alert to the necessity of art in a dangerously disenchanted world. We won’t heal our earth without finding our way back to it; this book can help.’ Scott Black, Professor of English, University of Utah, USA

    ‘In an era where so many vaunt the subversive, critical and revolutionary potentials of art, Patrick Curry’s book is a welcome alternative, a refreshing return to wonder and enchantment. Informed by deep scholarship worn lightly and artistic tradition alike, this work is accessible, thought-provoking, and occasionally even enchanting.’ - Tom Boland, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, University College Cork, Ireland

    ‘Patrick Curry’s Art and Enchantment is one man’s journey into the mystery of art: enchantment, being ‘in the song’. In his search, Curry discards the enemies of enchantment – the didact, the rationalist, and the one who looks for some quasi-scientific logic – and in doing so compiles a powerful case against modern civilization. His range of references is prodigious. He has read more, seen more and absorbed more than most of us could match. He writes with a disarming modesty and eloquence, and convinces by his pin-point descriptions. This is a book to be savoured.’ - John Elsom, PhD, author of Missing the Point: The Rise of High Modernity and the Decline of Everything Else

    ‘Art and Enchantment is a global kaleidoscope of vivid personal observations, fascinating quotations and challenging reflections focussing on the vital role that art can play in our lives today.’ - Julian Spalding, author of The Art of Wonder: A History of Seeing