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The Colours of Our Memories

Hardback By Michel Pastoureau
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Product Description

What remains of the colours of our childhood? What are our memories of a blue rabbit, a red dress, a yellow bike – and were they really those colours? What colours do we associate with our student years, our first loves, our adult lives? How does colour leave its mark on memory?

In an attempt to answer these and other questions, Michel Pastoureau presents us with a journal about colours that covers half a century. Drawing on personal recollections, he retraces the recent history of colours through an exploration of fashion and clothing, everyday objects and practices, emblems and flags, sport, literature, museums and art.

This text – playful, poetic, nostalgic – records the life of both the author and his contemporaries. We live in a world increasingly bursting with colour, in which colour remains a focus for memory, a source of delight and, most of all, an invitation to dream.

Product Details

Format: Hardback, 240 pages Language: English
Dimension: 147 x 25 x 229mm ISBN10: 0745655718
Weight: 476g ISBN13: 9780745655710
Publication Date: 20 Jul 2012 Publisher: Polity Press

About Author

Michel Pastoureau is chair of the history of medieval symbolism at the École pratique des hautes etudes, and one of the world’s leading authorities on the history of colours. His many previous books include Blue, Black and The Devil's Cloth.

Product Reviews


"In this lovely memoir, Pastoureau shares some of the colour associations that signposted his childhood and young adulthood. Embracing the belief that our identities depend on the memories we accumulate, Pastoureau elegantly shows how memories themselves are shaped by colour." Times Higher Education"The ubiquity of colour in modern society blinds us to its cultural significance. In his dazzling new book - a kaleidoscopic mix of historical research and personal memoir - Michel Pastoureau brilliantly reflects on what colour means, and what colours mean, from the underwear drawer to the TV screen." Jonathon Keats, author of Virtual Words and Forged"In this book the distinguished medievalist Michel Pastoureau uses his memoirs to frame reflections on a variety of historical topics that include the history of jeans, the history of signalling and the language of colour in ancient Greece. The author carries his learning lightly and writes with fluency, grace and humour." Peter Burke, University of Cambridge"A wonderful book made up of personal memories, those of a generation born after the war, of notes taken at the time and of scholarly explanations. Thanks to Michel Pastoureau and to the generosity of his erudition and clarity of his analyses, our life suddenly seems much richer." L’Express"This unusual autobiographical reflection is consistent with Michel Pastoureau’s reputation as a leading historian of colours.

  Here he draws readers into his distinctive way of thinking about the role that colours play in our memory, showing how our memories open up new fields of research: one rediscovers the objects of everyday life and of mass consumption, the cinema, literature and art, not to mention his cherished theme of heraldry. Through these reflections the reader retraces the history of colours and their theorization in the West. This book is a delight and it will awaken in readers a new curiosity about the world around them." Etudes: Revue de Culture Contemporaine "the writing is informative, often amusing, and delightfully readable." Australian Journal of Politics and History“The Colours of Our Memories is…history, memoir, semiotics, a study of material culture and perceptual change – all wrapped into an engagingly readable, accessible narrative full of intriguing topics that few people ever think about unprodded but will find invariably interesting, even fascinating.”Consciousness, Literature and the Arts


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