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Green Man: The Archetype of Our Oneness with the Earth Paperback – December 7, 1990


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Green Man is a vital archetype of our time." -- -- Robert Johnson, author of He, She, and We

"A fascinating and important book." - -- - Jennifer and Roger Woolger, authors of The Goddess Within

"A significant contribution to men's studies and healthy masculine spirituality." -- -- Matthew Fox, author of Original Blessing and Creation Spirituality

"Green Man is a vital archetype of our time." -- Robert Johnson, author of He, She, and We

"Green Man is essential reading for those men who seek the mythic roots for a revitalized masculinity equal to the challenge of planetary culture." -- Robert L. Moore, Jungian analyst and coauthor of King, Warrior, Magician, Lover

"A fascinating and important book." - -- - Jennifer and Roger Woolger, authors of The Goddess Within

"A significant contribution to men's studies and healthy masculine spirituality." -- Matthew Fox, author of Original Blessing and Creation Spirituality

"Not only completely convincing, but immensely enjoyable. For the first time the hidden power of the word 'Green'-now given to every activity, every person dedicated to stopping the devastation of the Earth and to a new 'greening' of the planet-is revealed in the Green Man as this image appears in the Western cultural tradition, especially in the folk tales, rituals, literature, and art and architecture of pasty centuries. The Green Movement will attain a new efficacy through this new understanding of itself, through the archetype of the Green Man that arises not simply out of our own Western traditions but from the unconscious depths of the human psyche. For this is the role of every archetype-to guide, inspire, and energize all our human activities." -- Thomas Berry, author of The Dream of Nature

"The complete story of the Green Man from the deep past to the present. The record of his survival in Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance art is truly fascinating. We learn how this vital symbol of the rebirth of planet life lived on, together with the symbol of Mother Earth, sometimes degraded and sometimes partially accepted by the Christian Church. Now this symbol, through this excellent book, comes back as the poet's archetype ('His words are leaves,' says the author). The revival of Green Man is a vital resource in renewing our lost unity with the world of Nature." -- Marija Gimbutas, author of The Language of the Goddess

"This rediscovery of the Green Man is a very timely, and has an important part to play in our search for a new relationship of living nature." -- Rupert Sheldrake, author of A New Science of Life

About the Author

William Anderson is a poet and author of books on may subjects including Dante the Maker (1980), which won the International PEN Club Award "The Silver Pen." His other works include a book of poems, The Waking Dream (1983), and a life of the visionary artist Ceil Collins (1988). He writes for Parabola and lectures widely.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: HarperSanFrancisco; First Edition edition (December 7, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062500759
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062500755
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #514,948 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Dianne Foster HALL OF FAME on July 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
I particularly enjoyed GREEN MAN because the author William Anderson brings together and explores many subjects of interest to me -- the natural world, mythology and archtypes, Gothic church architecture, Wordsworth, and the concept of Gaia. GREEN MAN has been described by it's critics as a book about Mythology and Ecology, but I think Anderson has also written a very fine art history.
Anderson suggests most art historians and critics have overlooked the Green Man as an archetypal element and artifact. And, although I've taken several art history classes on the topic of Western church architecture, I can't recall a single instructor discussing the foliate masks, vine disgorging heads, or human fruiting vegetation Anderson clearly describes. The photographs in his book show they can be found in many places in churches including on rood screens, columns, capitals, corbels, tympani, stringcourses, pediments, flying buttressses, with the Holy Virgin and child, and weeping over Christ.
Anderson suggests the Green Man (or our need for him) has morphed into variation after variation over the millenia. The Green Man probably began life as a Celtic mythical figure, but by the 20th Century he had become a hidden Art Deco element. His most amazing incarnation occurred in the Middle Ages in the Gothic cathedrals, especially very sacred spots like Chartres in France. Chartres was one of Joseph Campbell's favorite haunts, and he has shared many of his insights about the cathedral, as has the art historian Panofsky. Anderson shares a few more ideas involving the Green Man.
If you plan to visit churches or cathedrals in Britain, Ireland, or Europe, I think you'll find this book a good resource. You can also learn more about the Green Man and his link to the Earth Mother and the natural order.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By JoAnn Turner on March 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
I discovered this book in a small bookstore several years ago, and have thoroughly enjoyed reading it several times. Having ten years of training in art and art history, many books on art frustrate me, because many people don't know how to write about it. I found Anderson's book an absolute delight. He cites his sources, and it was always clear (to me, at least) when he was speculating, and when he was using references to support his statements. Discussing art and art history can all too often lead to muddy logic and subjectivity, which means that good art historians must meet a very high standard of proof. Anderson satisfied me on that count. Mind you, this is largely a work undertaken for his own curiousity and pleasure, so perhaps I wasn't as rigourous as I might have been with a work that claimed to be authoritative. But I know trash when I read it, and this is emphatically not trash. He's done his homework, and he knows his stuff. He states his case very well.
My own research into the Green Man and into the interface between Christianity and paganism in the Dark Ages and Middle Ages have led me to disagree with Anderson on a few points. But that doesn't diminish for me the pleasure of reading his book again.
I also enjoyed the many photographs. There's nothing worse than a book about art that doesn't illustrate the points made! And this book satisfied me there. I've used the illustrations as inspiration for my own artwork many times.
I count this as one of my favourite books of all time.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
Very good variety of photos of Green Man sculptures. Poses interesting theories as to the disappearance and reappearance of the Green Man in art and sculpture.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 19, 1998
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was an interesting read. It contained a great many theories about the Green man as well as on location photography. However, the author was somewhat prone to reciting his poetry and making theories without clearly stating they were simply his ideas. A very informative source on the Green man. I bought this book as I wanted to discover who and what the Greenman is.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Linda Pagliuco VINE VOICE on January 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
Beautifully illustrated compilation of research and mythology pertaining to Europe's ubiquitous Green Man image. Though no one knows for certain what, if anything, he signifies, the theories are numerous and fascinating. Once you know where to look, you'll find that this intriguing face is carved in all sorts of places, all over Europe, in wood and stone. He pops up just about everywhere there's medieval art - churches, cathedrals, palaces, public buildings. The varieties are endless, although all Green Men must have foliage incorporated in their visage. This little book is part of my permanent collection.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By merrymousies on February 20, 2005
Format: Paperback
Very detailed book founded on a lot of excellent research. I didn't expect so much information in such a small book but it's really packed (the type is small too). I was looking for a book that was pretty complete and this certainly gave me what I needed. It has color and black and white photographs of architecture and sculpture showing green man images through history which really puts this into context and brings it alive. Through the text, the author gives explanation as to why Green Man shows up in the sculptures, stories that would have surrounded the building/design of the structures containing the green man images, poetry, and history of the times.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Christopher R. Travers on October 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book purports to trace the image of the Green Man back to antiquity. On the positive side, it provides a great deal of raw information which anyone who studies the topic may find useful. This information could be quite helpful in further studies in this area.

However, I felt that the analysis provided in the book was somewhat lackluster. In addition to misusing terms like "archetype" I thought the mythological analysis left a lot to be desired. I thought that there was more solid and useful information in Mircea Eliade's "Myth and Reality" than there was here on the subject of a vegetation god.

All in all, I think the book is helpful to those who are studying the subject, but I believe the analysis in the book needs to be redone.
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