The Land of the Green Man

The Land of the Green Man : A Journey Through the Supernatural Landscapes of the British Isles

3.88 (160 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

Beyond its housing estates and identikit high streets there is another Britain. This is the Britain of mist-drenched forests and unpredictable sea-frets: of wraith-like fog banks, druidic mistletoe and peculiar creatures that lurk, half-unseen, in the undergrowth, tantalising and teasing just at the periphery of human vision. How have the remarkably persistent folkloric traditions of the British Isles formed and been formed by the identities and psyches of those who inhabit them? In her sparkling new history, Carolyne Larrington explores the diverse ways in which a myriad of imaginary and fantastical beings has moulded the cultural history of the nation. Fairies, elves and goblins here tread purposefully, sometimes malignly, over an eerie, preternatural landscape that also conceals brownies, selkies, trows, knockers, boggarts, land-wights, Jack o'Lanterns, Barguests, the sinister Nuckleavee, or water-horse, and even Black Shuck: terrifying hell-hound of the Norfolk coast with eyes of burning coal.
Focusing on liminal points where the boundaries between this world and that of the supernatural grow thin those marginal tide-banks, saltmarshes, floodplains, moors and rock-pools wherein mystery lies the author shows how mythologies of Mermen, Green men and Wild-men have helped and continue to help human beings deal with such ubiquitous concerns as love and lust, loss and death and continuity and change. Evoking the Wild Hunt, the ghostly bells of Lyonesse and the dread fenlands haunted by Grendel, and ranging the while from Shetland to Jersey and from Ireland to East Anglia, this is a book that will captivate all those who long for the wild places: the mountains and chasms where Gog, Magog and their fellow giants lie in wait."
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Product details

  • Paperback | 264 pages
  • 135 x 216 x 25.4mm | 249.48g
  • I.B. TAURIS
  • New York, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 31 black and white integrated illustrations and 1 map
  • 1784538485
  • 9781784538484
  • 467,413

Review quote

`The folklore of Britain abounds with local tales about the activities of one sort of supernatural being or another - giants, elves, hobs, boggarts, dragons or shape-changing witches. The stories are vivid, dramatic and often humorous. Carolyne Larrington has made a representative selection, which she re-tells in a simple, direct way which is completely faithful to the style and spirit of her sources. Most collectors of local legends have been content merely to note how they may serve to explain some feature of the landscape or to warn of some supernatural danger, but Carolyne Larrington probes more deeply. By perceptive and delicate analysis, she explores their inner meanings. She shows how, through lightly coded metaphors, they deal with the relations of man and woman, master and servant, the living and the dead, the outer semblance and the inner self, mankind and the natural environment. Her fascinating book gives us a fuller insight into the value of our traditional tales.' - Jacqueline Simpson, Visiting Professor of Folklore, University of Chichester, and former President of the Folklore Society, London, `This delightful book makes terrific bedside reading, but should also be kept in the car for reference on drives through the English countryside. It combines a charmingly informal style with impressive learning, mixing personal anecdotes and retellings of local legends with a deep knowledge of the history and literature of our islands, and evocative descriptions of the landscape. Don't leave home without it!' - Elizabeth Archibald, Professor of English, Durham University, co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to The Arthurian Legend, `Carolyne Larrington's book takes the form of a personal journey, from Shetland and Orkney to Cornwall, from Ireland and the Isle of Man to East Anglia (with additional contextual references to neighbouring countries such as France, Iceland and Norway), underlining the degree to which folk legends and beliefs continue to shape the cultural landscape that the people of the British Isles inhabit in the twenty-first century. As well as encountering a wide miscellany of supernatural beings with ancient roots, readers are given a deft and highly readable introduction to the beliefs and narratives that have long been associated with these beings in British folk culture over the course of time. The Land of the Green Man is a labour of love - a blend of lively storytelling and literary analysis - drawing on a knowledge that has evolved not only from personal experience but also decades of learning and teaching, passing on these accounts to students orally just like the storytellers of the past. Whether readers are interested in the land itself, or in the culture it has produced over centuries, which continues to give the land character and depth for those who walk across it, they cannot help but realise the degree to which ancient folklore of various kinds continues to shape the environment in which we live.' - Terry Gunnell, Professor of Folkloristics, University of Iceland, author of The Origins of Drama in Scandinavia, `An inspiring and delightful journey into landscape and the past by way of literature, folklore and memory. It reminds us of the true magic of the countryside. Wonderful.' - Neil Gaiman, `Fascinating' - SUNDAY TELEGRAPH, `A joyous celebration of English folklore' - NEW STATESMAN, `Rich in stories and ideas' - SPECTATOR, `Indispensably inspiring' - TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION, `Immensely readable' - LITERARY REVIEW, `Excellent' - TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT
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About Carolyne Larrington

Carolyne Larrington is Fellow and Tutor in Medieval English Literature at St John's College, Oxford. Her previous books include The Women's Companion to Mythology (1997), The Poetic Edda (2008), King Arthur's Enchantresses: Morgan and her Sisters in Arthuran Tradition (I.B.Tauris, 2006) and Magical Tales: Myth, Legend and Enchantment in Children's Books (2013).
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Rating details

160 ratings
3.88 out of 5 stars
5 24% (38)
4 48% (77)
3 22% (36)
2 4% (7)
1 1% (2)
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