- Hardcover: 356 pages
- Publisher: NYU Press (January 1, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0814766838
- ISBN-13: 978-0814766835
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,486,746 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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At the Bottom of the Garden: A Dark History of Fairies, Hobgoblins, Nymphs, and Other Troublesome Things
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“. . . a scholarly overview of the role that fairies have played in culture from the past to the present.”
“Illuminating and enormous fun.”
“At the Bottom of the Garden is brilliant, always on the move, and bone-chilling. There's nothing cutesy about this highly suggestive, provocative scholarship; the creatures animating this book are about as cuddly as scorpions, wee rattlers, and black-widow spiders. Purkiss has written a witty and compelling work that will fascinate readers and haunt our imaginations.”
-James Kincaid,University of Southern California, author of Erotic Innocence
“Fascinating. . . . Rigorously researched. . . . Highly recommended.”
“Enchanting . . . witty . . . full of surprises and delights.”
About the Author
Author of The Witch in History, Diane Purkiss was formerly Professor of English at Exeter University and is now Fellow and Tutor at Keble College, Oxford.
Top customer reviews
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In short this book tries to do everything and so succeeds at nothing. It doesn't have the pull of a narrative, the academic pretensions spoil the ranting and the ranting discredits the attempt at scholarship.
I would love to read a good book, academic or otherwise, on the darker aspects of magical creatures. This is not it.
Diane Purkiss's theory is that the faeries are reminiscent of the demons of the Mediterranean culture--the lamashtu who steals babies away into death, the lamia who seduces and devours men--and that faery lore deals with the same issues as these earlier myths. The faeries, she contends, were an explanation for why beautiful young people were taken away in illness and death. She tells heartbreaking stories of women who tortured and abandoned their sick babies, thinking them changelings; she disturbs us with the tale of Michael Cleary, who killed his wife and honestly seemed to believe his *real* wife would return to him now that he had disposed of the faery impostor. A far-fetched belief? Perhaps not; fairy stories of the time seemed to advocate just such actions. Purkiss takes us on an uncomfortable journey through the most brutal of faery myths, then into the Victorian age, when faeries became a symbol of idealized childhood. But there was a dark side to this as well--onstage "faeries" were played by street orphans who lived incredibly hard lives, and Barrie's _Peter Pan_ takes on a very different undertone when it comes out that the children in the play were based on children Barrie had known, who had *died young* and therefore stayed forever young.
I would have given this book five stars for its unique and disturbing perspective--it ought to be on the shelves of faery enthusiasts if only for balance--but I subtracted a star because Purkiss insists that her theory is the only valid way to look at the fairy-faith. There are many different beliefs that shaped the concept of the faery; I applaud Purkiss for digging into some of the darkest ones. But, as I said before, balance...balance...balance.