Why Hell Stinks of Sulfur by Salomon Kroonenberg
Mythology and Geology of the Underworld

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Synopsis

We know almost everything about the exterior of the earth, but for most people its interior is completely unknown. Beneath us, stretching for a distance comparable to that between Paris and New York, lies an underground realm associated with darkness and death. It has inspired writers and artists since time immemorial; when trying to imagine hell, they have usually located it under the ground.
In Why Hell Stinks of Sulfur, geologist Salomon Kroonenberg uses subterranean mythology as his point of departure. Starting with Dante’s Inferno, he takes the reader on a journey in the footsteps of Homer, Virgil, Leonardo, Descartes and Jules Verne. Along the way he turns a scientific spotlight on the background to myths of the underworld. At a small lake near Naples he searches for the gates of hell, as described in Virgil’s Aeneid.
Describing the multi-layered nature of the inside of the earth, exposing colours, gasses, liquids and metals as well as underground rivers and lakes, Kroonenberg sees the earth beneath our feet as a source of information about this unimaginably ancient planet. We have never penetrated beyond a depth of 12 kilometres, but beneath us is a unique archive, a living ecosystem whose riches we can still barely guess at.
Why Hell Stinks of Sulfur is a fascinating search for the geological foundations of hell and also an appeal to find ways to ensure that mankind’s thirst for natural resources does not exhaust the earth.
 

About Salomon Kroonenberg

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Salomon Kroonenberg is professor emeritus of geology at the Delft University of Technology. He is the author of The Human Scale.
 
Published August 12, 2013 by Reaktion Books. 352 pages
Genres: History, Nature & Wildlife, Science & Math, Travel, Professional & Technical, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Why Hell Stinks of Sulfur

Publishers Weekly

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Dutch geologist Kroonenberg (The Human Scale) takes an unconventional approach to ancient descriptions of the Underworld in this compelling literary and geological survey. When Aeneas enters the land

Dec 17 2012 | Read Full Review of Why Hell Stinks of Sulfur: My...

Los Angeles Review of Books

He does this “not because of a macabre sort of ‘oltretomba’ [Italian for ‘Underworld’] tourism, but to show how much fear and imagination have triumphed over science, and how much imagination we need even now to picture what it must look like down there.” What elevates Why Hell Stinks of Sulfur a...

Jul 14 2013 | Read Full Review of Why Hell Stinks of Sulfur: My...

Kroonenberg (geology, emeritus, Delft Univ. of Technology, Netherlands; The Human Scale) seeks as a geologist to locate the so-called underworld as described in classical mythology and the literature of Virgil, Homer, Dante, Jules Verne, and others. He arranges his study by components of the unde...

Apr 01 2013 | Read Full Review of Why Hell Stinks of Sulfur: My...

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