Here Be Dragons: A Fantastic Bestiary

Overview

Sphinxes, hydras, chimeras, dragons, unicorns, griffins, sirens, and centaurs--fantastic animals can be found in works from Greek vases to paintings by Bosch, Goya, and Picasso, from folk art to comic strips, advertising, and Hollywood movies. Here Be Dragons is a lavishly illustrated compendium of the marvelous menagerie of imaginary animals that humans have conjured up over the ages. Ariane and Christian Delacampagne take us on a visually and intellectually riveting journey through five thousand years of art, ...

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Overview

Sphinxes, hydras, chimeras, dragons, unicorns, griffins, sirens, and centaurs--fantastic animals can be found in works from Greek vases to paintings by Bosch, Goya, and Picasso, from folk art to comic strips, advertising, and Hollywood movies. Here Be Dragons is a lavishly illustrated compendium of the marvelous menagerie of imaginary animals that humans have conjured up over the ages. Ariane and Christian Delacampagne take us on a visually and intellectually riveting journey through five thousand years of art, examining the symbolic meanings of such creatures and what they say about the unconscious life of the human mind.

In the Middle Ages, "bestiary" referred to an edifying poem, in Latin or French verse, in which the moral characteristics of real or imaginary animals were highlighted. With the passing of time, this once-flourishing genre disappeared. We have ceased to equate animals that can be observed with those we only dream of, but neither science nor mass culture has managed to chase away imaginary beasts. Such creatures continue to haunt us, just as they haunted our ancestors.

In the first book to explore this subject with such cross-cultural and chronological range, the Delacampagnes identify five basic structures (unicorn, human-headed animal, animal-headed human, winged quadruped, and dragon) whose stories they relate from prehistory to the present day. They also provide fascinating sociological and psychoanalytical insight into the processes through which artists have created these astonishing animals and how they have been transmitted from culture to culture.

Contrary to what people once believed, the fantastic exists only in the mind. And yet, as Here Be Dragons shows us, it is one of the mind's most sophisticated, mysterious, and inspiring creations.

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Editorial Reviews

Toronto Globe & Mail
This lovely presentation of dragons and other imaginary beasts found in art all over the world makes it clear that humans have an almost innate facility for creating a pretend nature. . . . [A] beautiful book.
Toronto Globe and Mail

This lovely presentation of dragons and other imaginary beasts found in art all over the world makes it clear that humans have an almost innate facility for creating a pretend nature. . . . [A] beautiful book.
From the Publisher

"This lovely presentation of dragons and other imaginary beasts found in art all over the world makes it clear that humans have an almost innate facility for creating a pretend nature. . . . [A] beautiful book."--Toronto Globe and Mail

Library Journal
Chimeras, dragons, and unicorns may not exist, but they are beautifully illustrated in this coffee-table book depicting images of fantastic beasts from the beginning of recorded time to the present. While there are other books on this subject, none is as comprehensive either chronologically or multiculturally. Using a blend of art history and musings on the religions and myths of various peoples, the Delacampagnes attempt to define our age-old fascination with the unexplainable. Unfortunately, the authors' sometimes dense prose, coupled with their sociological and psychoanalytical interpretations of the images, makes for some difficult reading that ultimately sheds little light on the subject. The inadequate index mentions most of the fantastic creatures covered in the book but few of the artworks and none of the artists. Nevertheless, the illustrations are good, making it appropriate for an art library. If nothing else, this would be a nice adjunct to an image file.-Margarete Gross, Chicago P.L. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691116891
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 9/22/2003
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 9.72 (w) x 12.02 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Table of Contents


Introduction 7

CHAPTER ONE: Symbols, Dreams, Religions 17

CHAPTER TWO: Inventing a Bestiary 45

CHAPTER THREE: Unicorns and Human Hybrids 75

CHAPTER FOUR: Flying Quadrupeds and Dragons 113

CHAPTER FIVE: Influences or Coincidences? 143

CHAPTER SIX: The Fantastic Today 175

Conclusion 191

Bibliography 195

Acknowledgments 197

Index 198

Photograghy Credits 200

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Recipe

"The Delacampagnes' argument is crisp, lucid, economical, and persuasive. Their conceptualization and interpretation of the subject is, so far as I am aware, new. I know of no work that both presents such an extensive range of imagery and offers a comprehensive analysis of this kind."—Arthur Goldhammer, Harvard University

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