The Rainbow Bridge
Rainbows in Art, Myth, and Science
RAINBOW BRIDGE: Rainbows in Art, Myth, and Science ,
by Raymond L. Lee, Jr ., and Alistair B Fraser.
( Pennsylvania State Press :,
2001.408 pp.ISBN: 0271019778).
This book was a twenty-year project for Alistair and his (former) doctoral student,
Venerated as god and goddess, feared as demon and pestilence, trusted as
battle omen, and used as a proving ground for optical theories, the rainbows
image is woven into the fabric of our past and present. From antiquity to
the nineteenth century, the rainbow has played a vital role in both inspiring
and testing new ideas about the physical world. Although scientists today
understand the rainbows underlying optics fairly well, its subtle variability
in nature has yet to be fully explained.
Throughout history the rainbow has been seen primarily as a symbol--of
peace, covenant, or divine sanction--rather than as a natural phenomenon.
Lee and Fraser discuss the role the rainbow has played in societies throughout
the ages, contrasting its guises as a sign of optimism, bearer of Greek
gods messages of war and retribution, and a symbol of the Judeo-Christian
bridge to the divine.
The authors traverse the bridges between the rainbows various roles as
they explore its scientific, artistic, and folkloric visions. This unique
book, exploring the rainbow from the perspectives of atmospheric optics,
art history, color theory, and mythology, will inspire readers to gaze at
the rainbow anew.
29, 2001) described the book as: Stunningly well informed about the
art, science, philosophy and history of all eras since the Periclean Golden
Age, unerringly elegant, flatteringly intelligent and beautifully illustrated,
it is a masterful piece of accessible scholarship.
(June 18, 2001) says: This smart, impassioned cross-disciplinary study,
with its many color photos and illustrations, provides an eight-course feast
for the intellect and the eyes.
Inquirer says of the book: Over it, under it, sideways, you name
the angle: a spectacular cultural history of the rainbow in art, myth and
science. It shimmers.
Bulletin of the
American Meteorological Society (Sep. 2002) says that The Rainbow
Bridge traverses an immense ground with style, grace, wit, and insight.
It will provide atmospheric scientists with an authoritative account of
the scientific and cultural roots of their field. And perhaps most important,
it wil make all of us better observers. Atmospheric scientists who may never
have thought of themselves as cultured may find themselves with an ability
to diagnose paintings with unexpected discrimination and knowledge.
Notices of the American
Mathematical Society (Dec. 2002) says that This is a magnificent
and scholarly book, exquisitely produced, and definitely not destined only
for the coffee table. It is multifaceted in character, addressing rainbow-relevant
aspects of mythology, religion, the history of art, art criticism, the history
of optics, the theory of color, the philosophy of science, and advertising!
The quality of the reproductions and photographs is superb. The authors are
experts in meteorological optics, but their book draws on many other subdisciplines.
(Nov. 2002) says ,
Lee and Fraser are masters of prose, and their book is sumptuously produced
and abundantly illustrated. They are to be congratulated for producing not
only a definitive rainbow scholarship but also a gorgeous work of cultural