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Sea Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps Hardcover – June 15, 2013

23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“[B]eautifully illustrated. . . . People interested in maps, cryptozoology, folklore, and arcane zoology and zoological history will want to check it out.”
(Scientific American)

“The book features striking images of maritime monsters taken from maps of the ocean made between the 10th and 16th centuries.”
(Boston Globe Brainiac Blog)

“Full of charming stories and cartographic detail, Chet Van Duzer’s book is an entertaining and rewarding book for general readers and a well-researched reference for scholars.”
(Alessandro Scafi Times Literary Supplement)

“In the large-format, hardcover that this thing is, it’s basically as near to the ultimate nerd-level coffee table book that you could ever want, and I love it for that.”
(Aidan Flax-Clark Lapham's Quarterly)

“[An] authoritative, wide-ranging study. . . . Sumptuously produced. . . . The author is an encyclopedic scholar of historical cartography, with a magisterial command of comparative knowledge and scrupulous attentiveness to detail.”
(Marina Warner New York Review of Books)

“Medieval and Renaissance map scholar, Chet Van Duzer, backed by the British Library as publisher, have teamed up to produce a spectacular new book, Sea Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps, a topic, oddly enough, for which there is little by way of real precedent. This book will become the sea monster authority by default. Although this beautiful book is a product of academic quality, it is very readable and accessible and requires no prior knowledge.”
(BibliOdyssey)

“A truly charming book, and one that will turbocharge the imagination of anyone staring over the side of a boat at a bunch of waves that could hide just about anything.”
(Sam Llewellyn Marine Quarterly)

“Lavish. . . . The sea monsters depicted throughout Van Duzer’s beautifully illustrated British Library volume strike absolute wonder in the reader today, and the author provides valuable insight into what medieval and Renaissance viewers must have made of these sinewy, silly, horned, fanged, and fearsome creatures. . . . Van Duzer reminds scholars that it sometimes helps to let the eye wander to the margins, to get a different historical perspective of medieval perspectives of their surrounding seas. This critical analysis of a hitherto ignored cartographic trope adds much-needed depth to our understanding of medieval and later perceptions of the sea and its mysterious creatures.”
(Vicki Ellen Szabo, Western Carolina University Nautical Research Journal)

“An in-depth dissection of ancient maps and sea beasts from days past.”
(Andrew Belonsky Out)

"Duzer offers a sublime examination of the genealogy of individual sea monsters and the artistic techniques of placing them on maps. . . . The author and the British Library both deserve great praise for creating such a visually stunning work."
(Historical Geography)

About the Author

Chet Van Duzer is an Invited Research Scholar at the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: British Library (June 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0712358900
  • ISBN-13: 978-0712358903
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #733,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By James Reynolds on June 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover
"Sea Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps," by Chet Van Duzer, is
magnificent. I have spent a lifetime looking at old map books with a
magnifying glass hoping in vain to make out what that wondrous monster
is in the corner. Well, strain your eyes no longer: enlarged in sharp
detail and in brilliant living color are literally hundreds of
marvelous and monstrous beasts for you to look at and admire. This
book will satisfy even the most rigorous of scholars as it is
extremely well written and copiously footnoted. This book will be
a delight to fans of cartography, bestiaries and cryptozoolology. At
last, a serious book dedicated exclusively to sea monsters on maps.
They are no longer an amusing afterthought; here they finally get the
attention and study they deserve.

Vincent Cherico Providence RI USA
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A. Dedeaux on July 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the evolution of the arts and human culture. The text is insightful, and the maps are a fine compilation. Keep your eyes open for the origins of the Starbucks logo mermaid.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By pkf54 on August 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was glad to see the topic of sea monsters expanded upon. I love old maps and their cartographic designs.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By capemaychristy on February 6, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was looking for a coffee table book for my house at the beach and this fit the bill as I am very interested in antique maps. I would not give the inside of the book high marks for illustrations, though, unlike most books of this type. The cover is deceiving.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Seiji Hayashi on November 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I've been using this book as reference for some fantasy map illustrations I've been drawing for fun. The book is well researched and full of first-hand sources. Well worth it for anyone looking for historical inspiration compiled into a single book.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Macv on September 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The illustrations on the front and back dust jacket are among the most colorful and interesting parts of the entire book. Do not expect the text or inside illustrations to improve on the dust jacket.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jesse on December 10, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This wasn't quite what i was expecting, but I'm not at all disappointed. I was expecting something akin to a bestiary or a catalog of all the sea monsters, maybe with a bit of history or a description of the monster. Instead, the Author goes into depth as to why the monsters were put on the maps at all, sometimes for religious reasons, sometimes for decoration, and sometimes the monsters were just cases of mistaken identity. While it didn't list every single monster ever drawn, it did have a few sections like i had described above. All in all it's an excellent book, and became one of my favourites pretty quickly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Clyde Ray List on February 7, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It takes some imagination to understand why the Renaissance would define Man as "..a ship which is not meant to rot in port but to furrow long paths in the sea." (Alberti) If you are haunted by a suspicion that the oceans are plagued by creatures of the sort displayed on these maps, then how can you agree that Man is the measure of all things? A book as beautifully photographed and as well documented as this certainly helps you "get your head around it!"
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