"Nothing pleases me more than to come upon an impressive orb-web with a large spider sitting head-down in the middle," Paul Hillyard writes in the preface to this charming collection of spider legends and observations. And while many of us may not share his desire to get really close to arachnids, even a certified spider-hater can find something interesting in The Book of the Spider
--if only confirmation that they are worthy objects of horror. Gruesome reports of 30-foot webs and gangrenous spider-bites are countered by legends of luck-bringing and facts about ecological usefulness. Hillyard not only describes the major types of spiders and their incredible habits, he reports on spiders in art, mythology and religion. There's even (shudder) a recipe for barbecued blue-legged tarantula, served al fresco! If you love spiders, you must have this entertaining, informative book to add to your store of arachnid facts--you'll be the life of the party. If you run in fear from our eight-legged friends, cure your phobia by reading all the way to the last chapter, entitled "From Arachnophobia to the Love of Spiders." Then you, too, will come to appreciate the old English nursery rhyme: If you wish to live and thrive/Let the spider run alive. --Therese Littleton
From Publishers Weekly
Like a cunningly designed web, Hillyard's survey and appreciation of the world's most despised, yet most beloved, creepy-crawlies will ensnare readers from arachnophobes to arachnophiles. Hillyard, who maintains the national collection of spiders at London's Natural History Museum, knows a good spider story when he hears one, and tells many here. In an engaging yet scientifically rigorous manner, he covers arachnophobia; spiders in myth and literature; venomous, aeronautic and other types of spiders; webs and spider silk; the conservation of spiders and the history of spiderology. He serves up tales of folk remedies that call for eating live spiders; of the Australian funnel-web spider, which "strikes repeatedly and furiously at anything that moves"; of how, in 1876, a Chinese delegation presented Queen Victoria with a gown made of spider silk; of New Guinea natives using spiderwebs as fish-nets; of American arachnologist W.J. Baerg coolly observing the effects of his experiment in being bitten by a black widow. The only strand missing?and sorely missed?in Hillyard's design is any thorough discussion of spiders in popular culture, particularly in film. Even so, this literary web holds strong and tight, and is a must destination for anyone fascinated by these eight-legged, many-eyed, venom-dripping, fanged beasts of prey. Illustrations not seen by PW.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.