The Beginning and End of the World

St. Andrews, Scandal, and the Birth of Photography

Robert Crawford

In a work of spectacular imagination and remarkable synthesis, poet Robert Crawford celebrates St Andrews, the first town in the world to have its people, buildings and natural environment thoroughly documented through photography. The Beginning and the End of the World tells the stories of several pioneering Scottish photographers, linking their work to one of the nineteenth century's most scandalous and hotly debated publications. Here is the extraordinary intellectual life of an eccentric society rich in apocalyptically-minded Victorian inventors and authors whose work has had an international impact. The protagonists include a very quarrelsome professor, a cello-playing ex-military golfer, a notorious scientist, a married couple coping with mental breakdown and a physician obsessed with sewage. In paying full attention to these people's inter-relationship, implicitly and explicitly this book suggests that their lasting legacies may have a bearing on our own arguments about environmental sustainability and the possibility of largescale extinction.


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