What do green lions, nine-headed winged snakes, giant gold-digging ants and fish in the shape of bishops have in common? They all inhabit this new, comprehensive collection of strange and fantastic beasts. In excerpts spanning millennia and reflecting the development of the Western imagination itself, we encounter old favorites like the dragon, unicorn, phoenix, griffin, and mermaid, as well as a host of other bizarre creatures.
Comprising hundreds of well-known and obscure primary sources arranged chronologically by writer, The Book of Fabulous Beasts traces the development of imaginary animals as they appear and reappear in literary accounts from the Babylonian epic of creation to modern fantasy. From Herodotus to medieval bestiaries and travelers's tales, and from Renaissance heraldry, alchemy, and natural histories to the fantasy fiction of Tolkien, the author shows how these resilient beasts--once believed to be real--have transformed and regenereated through time, surviving even the Age of Reason that banished them to the realm of the "fabulous." With an extensive general introduction, glossary of animals, bibliography, index, and more than a hundred illustrations from a Babylonian cylinder seal of a god battling a dragon to James Thurber's drawing of a unicorn in a modern garden, this volume will be the standard reference for years to come.
The Book of Fabulous Beasts is the rare combination of an exhaustive source book and a delightful read. Readers can browse excerpts, trace one particular creature as it develops through time and translation, or read this epic story straight through, discovering along the way as much about the history and dreams of the human creature as about the fanciful animals on every page.show more