Cover: Icon and Idea: The Function of Art in the Development of Human Consciousness, from Harvard University PressCover: Icon and Idea in E-DITION

Icon and Idea

The Function of Art in the Development of Human Consciousness

Product Details


$65.00 • £54.95 • €60.00

ISBN 9780674435308

Publication Date: 01/01/1955

161 pages

101 halftones

The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures


Available from De Gruyter »

Media Requests:

Related Subjects

Harvard University Press has partnered with De Gruyter to make available for sale worldwide virtually all in-copyright HUP books that had become unavailable since their original publication. The 2,800 titles in the “e-ditions” program can be purchased individually as PDF eBooks or as hardcover reprint (“print-on-demand”) editions via the “Available from De Gruyter” link above. They are also available to institutions in ten separate subject-area packages that reflect the entire spectrum of the Press’s catalog. More about the E-ditions Program »

Hitherto art has been regarded as a desirable but not essential means of communicating emotions, ideas, and aspirations. In this ground-breaking book the author maintains on the contrary that the aesthetic activity is fundamental rather than peripheral.

Sir Herbert Read describes decisive stages in man’s aesthetic approach to reality. These stages correspond to certain decisive epochs in the history of art—beginning in the Stone Age and continuing to our own time. Each epoch represents a conquest by human consciousness of progressive spheres of existence. In each era the author shows how a new sense of reality is expressed in characteristic works of art.

By approaching universal history from a completely different point of view Sir Herbert has made a significant contribution which in provocative character and scope may well be compared with those of Spengler and Toynbee.

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Jacket: Iron and Blood: A Military History of the German-Speaking Peoples since 1500, by Peter Wilson, from Harvard University Press

A Lesson in German Military History with Peter Wilson

In his landmark book Iron and Blood: A Military History of the German-Speaking Peoples since 1500, acclaimed historian Peter H. Wilson offers a masterful reappraisal of German militarism and warfighting over the last five centuries, leading to the rise of Prussia and the world wars. Below, Wilson answers our questions about this complex history,