Throughout history artists, writers and musicians - 'creative' people - have tried to outdo God or the Gods in the acts of creation. This extraordinarily wide-ranging study traces the different concepts of creation in Western civilization, following the struggle between man and god for the right to create, and even the right to create gods. Along the way it becomes what is in essence a new history of Western civilization, a series of thirty-three chapters brimming with ideas, insights and erudition. It touches upon religion, art and artistry, alchemy, mystical traditions, opera, film, literature, linguistics, psychoanalysis, psychology and physics, among many other things, exploring what it means to create, as well as the popular myths of creation from every conceivable angle. The result is a breathtaking overview of man's uncrushable impulse to create, and his endless rivalry with the gods.
Peter Conrad has taught English at Christ Church, Oxford, since 1973. One of the great cultural critics of our time, he is the author of more than a dozen books, including Modern Times, Modern Places (T&H, 1999).