Mythical Zoo: Animals in Myth, Legend, and Literature

Mythical Zoo: Animals in Myth, Legend, and Literature

by Boria Sax
     
 

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The exploration of a menagerie of creatures’ representations across varied cultures, from Aesop’s Fables to MockingjayFrom Egyptian deities to Mickey Mouse, animals have played a pivotal role in human culture. Even today, animals wield symbolic powers as varied as the cultures that embrace them. Sacred cows, wily serpents, fearsome lions, elegant swans,

Overview

The exploration of a menagerie of creatures’ representations across varied cultures, from Aesop’s Fables to MockingjayFrom Egyptian deities to Mickey Mouse, animals have played a pivotal role in human culture. Even today, animals wield symbolic powers as varied as the cultures that embrace them. Sacred cows, wily serpents, fearsome lions, elegant swans, busy bees, and sly foxes—all are caricatures of the creatures themselves, yet they reflect not only how different cultures see the natural world around them but also how such cultures make use of their native animals.In this fun and thought-provoking book, historian and animal enthusiast Boria Sax argues for a classification of animals that goes beyond the biological to encompass a more meaningful distinction: tradition. From ants and elephants to tigers and tortoises, The Mythical Zoo weaves together a cross-cultural tapestry encompassing mythology, history, art, science, philosophy, and literature. The result is a beautifully illustrated, masterfully composed love letter to the animal kingdom.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Enter Boria Sax, the veritable Ace Ventura of contemporary academia." —New York Journal of Books

"Boria Sax is a likeable writer. His diligent research has . . . illuminated the origins of one of Britain's most famous myths." —Times Literary Supplement

"A charming, off-kilter work of history and zoology." —ForeWord

Library Journal
04/15/2014
In his latest work, Sax (City of Ravens) offers an eloquent, thorough, and absorbing survey of the representation in myth, legend, and literature of various members of the animal kingdom. The text is divided into themed chapters (e.g., "Musicians," "Beasts of Burden," "Almost Human"), each covering animals whose zoological characteristics and cultural representations match the motif. For example, in "Tricksters," Sax discusses such animals as the coyote, fox, jackal, hare, rabbit, and spider, each associated with wily, cunning, and mischievous behavior. His discussions draw from a wealth of sources including historical accounts, art, literature, zoological content, and numerous myths, legends, and folktales as diverse as the salmon of wisdom from Celtic mythology, Spider Woman from Hopi and Navaho folklore, and Disney's Bambi. The book is enhanced by illustrations, photographs, and a helpful index of animals and bibliography. VERDICT Informative and accessible, this volume is highly recommended for anyone interested in mythology, folklore, or anthropology, as well as those with a general curiosity in animals and their place in culture and literature.—Jennifer Harris, Southern New Hampshire Univ. Lib., Manchester

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781468307207
Publisher:
The Overlook Press
Publication date:
11/29/2013
Pages:
339
Sales rank:
824,320
Product dimensions:
7.40(w) x 9.32(h) x 1.23(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

"Enter Boria Sax, the veritable Ace Ventura of contemporary academia." --New York Journal of Books

"Boria Sax is a likeable writer. His diligent research has . . . illuminated the origins of one of Britain's most famous myths." --Times Literary Supplement

"A charming, off-kilter work of history and zoology." --ForeWord

Meet the Author

Boria Sax is the award-winning author of City of Ravens (available from Overlook) and Animals of the Third Reich. His books have been translated into eight languages. He lives in White Plains, New York.

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