When darkness falls, the coordinates that usually guide our perception shift. In The Book of Night, Bernd Brunner takes us on a tour through the fascinating hours between dusk and dawn, drawing on history, mythology, biology, and literature to shed light on our relationship to the night. For millennia, nature imposed a strict rhythm on our lives. The day was devoted to activities of all kinds – but when the sun went down, the world sank into slumber and dreams. Only nocturnal creatures and passionate noctivagants like Goethe – who loved to go swimming by moonlight – appreciated the bright side of darkness. Nighttime activities always had something subversive, forbidden, and exciting about them. But since the invention of artificial light, the night has lost more and more of its mystique. Streetlights turned the dark into day. “Let’s murder the moonlight!” was the battle cry of the Futurists, whose movement coincided with the rise of legendary nightclubs, dance palaces, and Berlin’s famous cabarets.
The Book of Night introduces us to shadowy figures, superstitions, and customs and takes us on a journey of discovery that leaves us amazed at the secrets that the night, despite everything, still holds.
"You don’t have to be a night owl – or swim by moonlight, like Goethe – to enjoy me. You just have to trust me; I hold dark secrets. Do you know why it’s only in the darkness that we can see into the infinite, where thousands of lights glow as witnesses to a time that disappeared long before we existed? Read me. I will touch you."
"“For millennia, humans were at the night’s mercy. Light was a luxury. And yet the night was never "just for sleeping", as Bernd Brunner’s The Book of Night makes clear. Like a literary flaneur, the author dreams his way through the centuries and shows that views on sleep and dreaming have changed significantly from one age to the next. For Enlightenment philosophers, for example, they were nothing but a waste of time.."
Aspekte, Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen
"The book is bursting with quotes about the night from poets, authors, and philosophers—and at least since Kafka we have known that these are all people who work while regular citizens are sleeping. … For a long time, however, the night evoked fear—of wild animals, robbers, treacherous moors, and ghosts. For the Catholic church, the night was even the time when the devil and witches were out and about. The Enlightenment finally lit up the darkness, but the Romantics still celebrated the dark hours. One of their number, the German writer Novalis, gushed, “Does not everything that inspires us wear the color of the night?” Brunner claims that the best ideas and most valuable insights come to us at night—and that some thinkers have even had their greatest breakthroughs while they were sleeping."
Helmut Höge, Tageszeitung
"Lively philosophical-poetical forays through the night... filled with amazing facts, surprising observations, and the perfect quotes to match"
Kontext, Österreichischer Rundfunk
"If “the day has eyes, the night ears,” according to a Scottish proverb, there is no better interpreter of the nocturnal conversation than Bernd Brunner. This book is a delightful, thoughtful exploration of the natural and cultural collision that is the human experience of night."
Florence Williams, author of "The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative" and "Heartbreak: A Personal and Scientific Journey"
"Bernd Brunner's The Book of Night is a perfect read for those midnight moments when you suddenly can't sleep and wonder what it all means. As always, he remains one of our finest guides to those simple things around us whose importance and depth we never appreciate enough. Wake up to wonder!"
David Rothenberg, professor of philosophy and music at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and author of "Why Birds Sing", "Nightingales in Berlin", among many others
"In The Book of Night, anecdotes, musings, and tales arrive in a mesmerizing, dreamlike cascade—cave newts and witches and street lights and Madonna. In an age when the night is as easy to banish as a flick of a switch, it is easy to forget all that it holds. But Bernd Brunner makes a strong case that the dark is worth another look."
Zach St. George, science journalist and author of "The Journeys of Trees"
"A delightful nocturnal romp. In Brunner's deft hand, the dark side of life reveals itself as far more magical than menacing."
Dan Egan, journalist, two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, author of "The Devil's Element" and "The Death and Life of the Great Lakes"