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Encyclopedia of Things That Never Were: Creatures, Places, and People Paperback – July 1, 1998

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This comprehensive compilation references myths and fantasies from around the world and spanning human history. Detailed yet succinct, the very readable articles are collected under seven topics?e.g, the cosmos, the ground and the underground?and arranged alphabetically by subject. The diverse coverage examines myriad imagined powers and creatures from historical, sociological, cultural, and artistic perspectives, and while many of the ghosts, wizards, gremlins, gods, fairies, and so forth are familiar, many more, e.g., Hyperborea, Alulei, and Phaeton, are not. Each article summarizes the identity, definition, and aspects of the entity, drawing on material derived from classic studies in myth and lore. The illustrations are extraordinary. Though the format is somewhat ungainly for a reference source, and cross references are absent, this book is a rich treasury. The Australian authors, who have written several monographs on mysteries, gnomes, and weird tales of land and sea, have demonstrated a remarkable grasp of the narrative elements of folklore, fables, and belief systems. A significant contribution to all collections in fantasy and allied genres.?Richard K. Burns, MSLS, Hatboro, PA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Robert Ingpen is an award-winning illustrator of numerous books, including The Encyclopedia of Events That Changed the World, The Encyclopedia of Ideas That Changed the World, and The Encyclopedia of Mysterious Places (all Penguin Studio).
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Studio; First Paperback Edition edition (July 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140100083
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140100082
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 0.5 x 12.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #279,119 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 24, 1999
Format: Paperback
I first came across this book by chance in my high school library. I'd read a number of books on mythology before, but I'd never seen anything like this. It became my favorite book in the library, and I'd come back to it repeatedly. Unfortunately, the volume was lost somehow, and I've been looking for a personal copy ever since. It is an amazing compilation of mythological creatures, and for it may lack as far as depth of description is concerned, it more than makes up for in the number of entries within.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Clara Arak on June 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
I bought this book a couple of years ago in a moment of pure whim, and I've not regretted the purchase.
It isn't fully reliable when it comes to facts, and therefore should not be used for research, but if you discount that and approach it as entertainment or seed for story ideas, it is lovely. The illustratious and gorgeous and the way the book is arranged is clever and useful. The authors chose such a wide variety of topics and sources that the book is very good for expanding your knowledge base or finding new interests. I really appreciate that they did not focuse entirely on the Greeks as if theirs were the only mythology! I run across that too often.
However, for a more accurate take on mythology, I suggest something more serious like "World Mythology," edited by Roy Willis. This book is more useful in terms of facts, but the Encyclopedia of Things that Never Were is the one I read more often.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a large, beautifully illustrated book, full of information on a wide-range of fantasy topics. Some authors of books on mythology and fantasy take on a snooty, lecturing tone, like they're imparting true occult wisdom upon the unenlightened masses. Page and Ingpen get a little mystical but I never had the impression that they really thought they had met pixies or been to Valhalla. My only problem with it is that the entries are not sourced. There is a nice bibliography in the back but there is no indication in the individual entries where the information came from. It would have been nice to be able to follow up on the entries that I found especially interesting.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By thew2@msn.com on April 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
I am only 16 years old, but I am one of the biggest bibliophiles you'll ever meet. I love reading every kind of book and fantasy books are some of my favorites. I got this book as a present when I was 8 (hardcover version) and even still, every time I look at it, I find something new. As others have pointed out, there are some editing errors and some things are left out, but in my opinon, the sheer beauty and wealth of information in this books allows the reader to easily overlook it. This book can be used as a reference book, but I enjoy just thumbing through the pages and reading random entries (my favorite is "White Cat's Castle"). So, I entreat any lover of books, especially fantasy, to pick up this book and enjoy!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By liz on November 18, 2003
Format: Paperback
I love this book. I sleep next to it at night. I hold it close and coo words of endearment.
I found this in my school library when i was about seven or eight. (to avoid confusion from here, my school is K-12) from then on, every few months i'd check it out for a project or just fun (i was intensely into this stuff) about my freshman year they revamped the library and i couldnt find it (GASP!!) eventually i located it on the floor, open and in pain. I cried to the heavens WHY?! and promptly put it under my arm and walked away. I've had it for about 4 years in my bed between the sideboard and matress and every time i open it i find something new, interesting and inspirational.
only downfall is everything is written as exact so its doesnt include many variations of myths but in these situations its a good starting point anyways.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By B. Baker on October 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
I accidentally stole this book from my college library, when I put it in my bag and forgot it was there until I got home (how I got it through the electronic sensors is an unsolved mystery). Once I realized the mistake though, I couldn't bring myself to return it. It is true that, as other reviewers have pointed out, this book is anything but comprehensive, and is certainly not an academic or reference work. However, it is the most beautiful, entertaining book on mythology I've yet seen, and will probably inspire many who read it to track down some of those more scholarly references. Apart from the fanciful illustrations, I found the democratic scope of the work particularly commendable- the authors pull many of their entries from the usual sources, such as the folklore of the British Isles and Egyptian mythology, but they also look to more unusual inspiration such as contemporary American hobo mythology. I also like how the conceit of the book- to discuss these "things that never were" as if they really existed- is applied not only to subjects culled from ancient mythology, which presumably were at some point viewed more or less as factual, but also to those created whole-cloth for relatively recent works of literature. Given that the focus of the book is so free-ranging, it is inevitable that there are some weird omissions and emphases- no separate entries for the bulk of the Greek pantheon, but page after page of detailed notes on locations featured only in Gulliver's Travels, for example- but this same quality means that even the most seasoned mythology afficionado is likely to find something new or surprising here. A truly entertaining work.
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