Imaginary Animals

Imaginary Animals

Imaginary Animals: The Monstrous, the Wondrous and the Human by Boria Sax

GR 825 .S288 2013

“Fire-breathing dragons, seductive mermaids, majestic unicorns, three-headed dogs – fantastic creatures have long excited our imaginations. Medieval authors placed them in the borders of manuscripts as markers of the boundaries of our understanding. These fabulous beasts, as recounted in tales from around the world, inhabit marginal locations: deserts, deep woods, remote islands, glaciers, swamps, caves, the depths of the ocean and alternate universes. Legends tell us that imaginary animals belong to a primordial time, before we encompassed the world in names, categories and elaborate conceptual frameworks. According to the apocalyptic visions in the Bible, they will also proliferate as we approach the end of time, with horses that breathe fire, dragons and serpents signalling the impending destruction of the world.

This book shows how, despite their liminal role, griffins, dog-men, mermaids, dragons, unicorns, yetis and many other imaginary creatures are socially constructed through the same complex play of sensuality and imagination as ‘real’ ones. It traces the history of imaginary animals from Palaeolithic art to the Harry Potter stories and robotic pets. These beasts help us psychologically by giving form to our amorphous fears as ‘monsters,’ as well as embodying our hopes as ‘wonders.’ Yet their greatest service may be to continually challenge our imaginations, directing us beyond the limitations of our conventional beliefs and expectations.” – publisher description


Oh My Gods: A Modern Retelling of Greek and Roman Myths

Oh My Gods: A Modern Retelling of Greek and Roman Myths by Philip Freeman

BL 782 .F73 2012

“The Greek and Roman myths have never died out; in fact they are as relevant today as ever.  For thousands of years these myths have inspired plays, operas, paintings, movies, and television programs.  They are fascinating tales that tell us about ourselves – about our hopes, fears, and desires, which are as ancient as mankind.  Many of these myths are deeply disturbing; others are sublimely beautiful.  All of them move us still, as they did the Greeks and Romans hundreds of generations ago.

Oh My Gods is a retelling of some of the most popular myths by a gifted scholar and writer.  These tales of errant gods, fantastic creatures, and human heroes are brought to life in fresh and contemporary versions.

Have there ever been stories to rival the myths about the creation of the universe and the wars among the earliest gods?  Or about the Olympian gods themselves: powerful Zeus, king of the gods, possessed of a wandering eye; his wife, Hera, queen of marriage and childbirth, perpetually outraged by her husband’s many affairs; Poseidon, god of the sea, brother of Zeus; their other brother, Hades, god of the underworld; and all the other gods and goddesses – talented Apollo, beautiful Aphrodite, fierce Athena, swift Hermes, and many more.  And the dauntless heroes Theseus and Hercules, the doomed lovers Hero and Leander or Orpheus and Eurydice, whose stories can still break our hearts.  From the astonishing tales of the Argonauts to the immortal narrative of the Battle of Troy, these ancient myths have inspired writers from Shakespeare to J. K. Rowling.

Philip Freeman’s vibrant, contemporary retelling makes us appreciate a gain why these wonderful tales have lasted thousands of years and charmed young and old readers alike.” – publisher description