At the Bottom of the Garden is a history of fairies from the ancient world to the present. Steeped in folklore and fantasy, it is a rich and diverse account of the part that fairies and fairy stories have played in culture and society.
The pretty pastel world of gauzy-winged things who grant wishes and make dreams come true—as brought to you by Disney's fairies flitting across a woodland glade, or Tinkerbell’s magic wand—is predated by a darker, denser world of gorgons, goblins, and gellos; the ancient antecedents of Shakespeare's mischievous Puck or J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan. For, as Diane Purkiss explains in this engrossing history, ancient fairies were born of fear: fear of the dark, of death, and of other great rites of passage, birth and sex. To understand the importance of these early fairies to pre-industrial peoples, we need to recover that sense of dread.
This book begins with the earliest manifestations of fairies in ancient civilizations of the Mediterranean. The child-killing demons and nymphs of these cultures are the joint ancestors of the medieval fairies of northern Europe, when fairy figures provided a bridge between the secular and the sacred. Fairies abducted babies and virgins, spirited away young men who were seduced by fairy queens and remained suspended in liminal states.
Tamed by Shakespeare's view of the spirit world, Victorian fairies fluttered across the theater stage and the pages of children's books to reappear a century later as detergent trade marks and alien abductors. In learning about these often strange and mysterious creatures, we learn something about ourselves—our fears and our desires.
|Publisher:||New York University Press|
|Product dimensions:||7.00(w) x 5.00(h) x 1.29(d)|
About the Author
Author of The Witch in History , Diane Purkiss was formerly Professor of English at Exeter University and is now Fellow and Tutor at Keble College, Oxford.
What People are Saying About This
“Fascinating. . . . Rigorously researched. . . . Highly recommended.”
“At the Bottom of the Garden is brilliant, always on the move, and bone-chilling. There's nothing cutesy about this highly suggestive, provocative scholarship; the creatures animating this book are about as cuddly as scorpions, wee rattlers, and black-widow spiders. Purkiss has written a witty and compelling work that will fascinate readers and haunt our imaginations.”
-James Kincaid,University of Southern California, author of Erotic Innocence
“. . . a scholarly overview of the role that fairies have played in culture from the past to the present.”
“Enchanting . . . witty . . . full of surprises and delights.”
“Illuminating and enormous fun.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book is fascinating. Don't know how accurate it is (I definitely have misgivings about the classical portions) but the chapters on the Victorian era are great!
This book was one of the best of it's kind that I have read. There was so much information and it was exciting to read.