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Aberystwyth academic explores the phenomenon of darkness in new book

14 Nov 2023 3 minute read
Photo Steve Porter

A new book exploring the natural phenomenon of darkness and the way that it fires our imagination has been published by an Aberystwyth University academic.

The work of creative writing lecturer and critically acclaimed author Dr Jacqueline Yallop, Into the Dark: What darkness is and why it matters, is an in-depth exploration of our primeval fascination and fear of the dark.

Looking at darkness in all its forms, the book draws on science, literature, art, philosophy and history to consider how humans experience the dark and how it captivates, baffles and appals us.


The author also considers the darkness through the eyes of her father, who developed dementia and acquired a pre-occupation with the dark as his world reduced.

“Ever since I was a child, I have been fascinated by the dark – by our efforts to capture or avoid it, by the meanings we give to it and the way our brains process it,” Dr Yallop said.

“Over the centuries, the state of darkness has been examined and analysed by art, literature, physics, medicine, religion, psychology, and psychiatry – and yet, it remains a mystery to us.

“It is a thing of fascination and repulsion, an absence and a presence, a solace and a threat, a beginning and an end.

“As humans, we are occupied by our ongoing battle to eradicate the dark, wiping it out one streetlight at a time.  But by doing this, we are overlooking the importance of the darkness to our wellbeing.

“The darkness offers unique physical and mental benefits to humans and is vital to the rest of nature.  I hope that the book will make readers curious about the dark and make them want to experience darkness for themselves – but also to treasure it as something that is precious and should be valued.”

Dr Yallop, who  works in the Department of English and Creative Writing at Aberystwyth University, where she teaches prose fiction and creative non-fiction, has written three critically acclaimed novels and three works of non-fiction.

Her novel Obedience (Atlantic) was nominated for the Man Booker Prize. Her memoir Big Pig Little Pig (Figtree) was Radio 4 Book of the Week and her work has been translated into several languages.

Into the Dark: What darkness is and why it matters is published by Icon Books and you can purchase a copy here…….

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