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Book Of Beasts Hardcover – January 1, 1955


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Hardcover, January 1, 1955
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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape (1955)
  • ASIN: B000WO8FH4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 40 people found the following review helpful By "bobkytten" on October 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is indeed an excellent book for those interested in history and biology. ~The Book of Beasts~ is a translation from Latin of a Twelfth century bestiary. It was written as a serious scientific study of zoology, despite giving equal precedence to dogs, horses, lions, dragons, and unicorns. This was the world of wildlife as the people of the 1100's saw it. It includes such beliefs as "when a lioness gives birth to her cubs, she brings them forth dead and lays them up lifeless for three days - until thier father, coming on the third day, breathes in thier faces, and makes them alive." (direct quote) The book also has an extensive appendix, detailing the history of the original manuscript of this bestiary, and information on ancient bestiaries as a whole. Further, the author tells us "No Latin prose bestiary has ever before been printed, even in Latin. This is the first and only English translation in print. . ." This is an invaluable reference to any students of historical sciences, especially biological/zoological sciences, or to any simply interested in the subjects. Very highly recommended.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By T. Kaske on August 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book makes me deliriously happy.

The text is full of gorgeous illustrations, and the author's bizarro witticisms are almost as amusing as the claims that he's translating. While it may not be the right book to base serious, humorless research on--the author, while academic, is adorably distractible--it's a fantastic companion for creative inspiration and amusing reading. I've collected a number of medieval bestiary reference books, and this is by far my favorite.

If you're looking for a pile of facts done analytically and systematically, this is probably not for you. Personally, I have a lot of love for science/academia-gone-awry (which inspired my love of bestiaries in the first place), and this text is a delightful example of exactly that. The unreliability and downright absurdity of the actual content is beautifully reflected in the author's own meandering, quirky voice and footnotes (oh, the glorious footnotes!)--unintentional, I'm sure, but delightful as a piece of art, a portrait of not only 12th-century naturalism but of 20th-century classical academia.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Read Wells on December 28, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Book of Beasts. White's familiarity with the lore and his grace with language make this a must for anyone who cares about the Arthurian legend, as all students and teachers of English should.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By othoniaboys on February 14, 2012
Format: Paperback
Although an annotated translation rather than an original book, this oddity deserves the attention of all lovers of the books of T. H. White, author of 'The Once and Future King' which served as the basis for Disney's Sword in the Stone and the musical Camelot. Here you have pious nonsense served up raw but delightfully. The medieval folk lived in a sort of fantasy world without realizing it. White was a gentle soul who is not here to make fun, or not too much fun, of the idiocies of the Middle Ages.
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