'Very beautiful and illuminating' Mariella Frostrup Edward Brooke-Hitching, author of the international bestseller The Phantom Atlas delivers an atlas unlike any other. The Devil’s Atlas is an illustrated guide to the heavens, hells and lands of the dead as imagined throughout history by cultures and religions around the world. Packed with colourful maps, paintings and captivating stories, the reader is taken on a compelling tour of the geography, history and supernatural populations of the afterworlds of cultures around the globe.
Whether it’s the thirteen heavens of the Aztecs, the Chinese Taoist netherworld of ‘hungry ghosts’, or the ‘Hell of the Flaming Rooster’ of Japanese Buddhist mythology (in which sinners are tormented by an enormous fire-breathing cockerel), The Devil’s Atlas gathers together a wonderful variety of beliefs and representations of life after death. These afterworlds are illustrated with an unprecedented collection of images, ranging from the marvellous ‘infernal cartography’ of the European Renaissance artists attempting to map the structured Hell described by Dante and the decorative Islamic depictions of Paradise to the various efforts to map the Garden of Eden and the spiritual vision paintings of nineteenth-century mediums.
The Devil’s Atlas accompanies beautiful images with a highly readable trove of surprising facts and narratives, from the more inventive torture methods awaiting sinners, to colourful eccentric catalogues of demons, angels and assorted death deities. A traveller’s guide to worlds unseen, The Devil’s Atlas is a fascinating study of the boundless capacity of human invention, a visual chronicle of man’s hopes, fears and fantasies of what lies beyond.
Edward Brooke-Hitching is the author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling books The Phantom Atlas (2016), The Golden Atlas (2018), The Sky Atlas (2019), The Madman's Library (2020) and The Devil's Atlas (2021), all of which have been translated into numerous languages; he is also the author of Fox Tossing, Octopus Wrestling and Other Forgotten Sports (2015). He is a writer for the BBC series QI. A fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and an incurable cartophile, he lives surrounded by dusty heaps of old maps and books in Berkshire.
'A funny and phantasmagoric tour of humanity’s attempts to survey the afterlife, both high and low. If you’d like to know which author wrote about the bordellos in hell, where to find a tree that grows devil heads, or what angels’ houses might smell like, this book is for you.'
– Bess Lovejoy, author of Rest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses
'Stunning and utterly fascinating'
– Dan Schreiber – No Such Thing As A Fish
'A sumptuous collection of artworks, from all over the world, and through the ages, depicting visions of heaven and hell.'
– Booktime magazine
‘In this world of mental exploration, Edward Brooke-Hitching is a delightful and indispensable guide…For all their horrors, Brooke-Hitching’s hells are ultimately comforting because their solid boundaries keep the dead away from us.’
– Diane Burkiss, Literary Review
‘The Devil’s Atlas entertainingly gathers the hells and underworlds of numerous ages and schools of belief, together with limbos and purgatories, and – at last – the heavens, paradises and utopias. Written in sparkling scholarship studded with glittering trivia, abundant education and monstrous images.’
– Strong Words
'The perfect shelf-mate to The Madman's Library, brimming with vibrant imagery - from the Book of the Dead to Islamic manuscripts to William Blake, and, of course, an entire section devoted to Dante. Clever writing and astonishing illustrations.'
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More books from this author: Edward Brooke-Hitching