What is the central message of the book?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Embarrassment of Riches, by historian Simon Schama, is a look at Dutch culture during its Golden Age. The book examines elements of Dutch culture as diverse as their mourning rituals to how they brought up their children. At its core, the book hints that the Dutch culture during this time period was a contradictory one. Despite having incredible prosperity and affluence, the Dutch feared that they would be corrupted by prosperity. The Dutch had access to fresher food than many other parts of Europe and built incredible buildings. At the same time, the Dutch became addicted to smoking and began to indulge in drugs. This overindulgence was reflected in their art, which depicted people drowsy or drunk. The central theme is therefore that the Dutch were a contradictory people, on one hand incredibly prosperous but also fearful, sometimes rightfully so, that they would overindulge.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial