- Series: Dictionary, Penguin
- Paperback: 1184 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (March 1, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0140512543
- ISBN-13: 978-0140512540
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 2 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols (Dictionary, Penguin) Reprint Edition
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Original Language: French --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Jean Chevalier was a university lecturer in philosophy and theology before working for UNESCO. He subsequently devoted himself to writing and research, publishing many works on religion and spirituality. He died in 1993. Alain Gheerbrant is a well-known poet and travel-writer, living in Paris. John Buchanan-Brown is a long-established and gifted translator of French books.
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Top customer reviews
There are some ancient gods and mythological and religious figures presented like Adam and Cain, and astrological signs, but thankfully these don't take up most of the book -- there are enough books on those topics already. The vast majority of this book covers _things_ like "chariot," "dog," "feather," "oil," "serpent," "throne" and "wheel" -- just to name a few. I own many books on folklore, superstition, folk belief and mythology, and I know a great book on these topics when I see one -- and this is a great book and a browser's dream.
Some complain that images would have been helpful, and there aren't many pictures here, but when you're discussing something like "fox," "crown" or "satire" -- do you really need an image? I would prefer this book to have been a little larger, it is a rather small, fat book but regardless of the format the content is just beyond anything else I've seen.
I would recommend "Dictionary of Symbols" as a companion volume to a book like "Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology, and Legend." While the "Standard Dictionary..." is a much longer book, it opts for more depth and perhaps a bit less range than this one. Of course their purposes are slightly different. There's several dictionaries/encyclopedias of symbols out there, if you just want one, get this one.
However, I find there is always a trade off. Publishing costs and space taken up for these visuals means less text and less substance. So while I have an initial pleasure in perusing the ones with pictures I often find these don't really have anything to do with my dream images -- they are indeed usually intriguing works of art but not particularly helpful for serious symbol analysis.
Thus the most consistently helpful symbol book, to which I always return when I seriously want to know a range of possibilities for my dream images or concepts is the Penguin Dictionary of Symbols by Chevalier, Cheerbrant and Buchanan-Brown. The authors have done a monumental work bringing so much substance to it, managed to remain relevant for decades even though it was first published in France in 1969 with the second edition in 1982, and by now reading it is like coming home.
A another benefit of being all text (seriously the text is not that hard to read, the print is of excellent quality with crisp deliniations between entries, references, etc.) is that the act of researching my dream images does not itself start interfering with the memory of my own visual image, as pictures might.
To each his own preference ... but for persons more experienced in working with dreams, I think the substance here will be recognized as highly valuable.