In myths and legends, squids are portrayed as fearsome sea-monsters, lurking in the watery deeps waiting to devour humans. Even as modern science has tried to turn those monsters of the deep into unremarkable calamari, squids continue to dominate the nightmares of the Western imagination. Taking inspiration from early weird fiction writer H. P. Lovecraft, modern writers such as Jeff VanderMeer depict squids as the absolute Other of human civilization, while non-Western poets such as Daren Kamali depict squids as anything but threats. In Squid, Martin Wallen traces the many different ways humans have thought about and pictured this predatory mollusk: as guardians, harbingers of environmental collapse, or an untapped resource to be exploited. No matter how we have perceived them, squids have always gazed back at us, unblinking, from the dark.
Blending architecture, design, and technology, a visual tour through futures past via the objects we have replaced, left behind, and forgotten. So-called extinct objects are those that were imagined but were never in use, or that existed but are now unused—superseded, unfashionable, or simply forgotten. Extinct gathers together an exceptional range of artists, curators, architects, critics, and academics, including Hal Foster, Barry Bergdoll, Deyan Sudjic, Tacita Dean, Emily Orr, Richard Wentworth, and many more. In eighty-five essays, contributors nominate “extinct” objects and address them in a series of short, vivid, sometimes personal accounts, speaking not only of obsolete technologies, but of other ways of thinking, making, and interacting with the world. Extinct is filled with curious, half-remembered objects, each one evoking a future that never came to pass. It is also a visual treat, full of interest and delight.
With their distinctive pink coloring and one-legged stance, flamingos are easily the most recognizable bird in the world. Most of us don't know, however, that there are actually six different species of flamingo, each differing in size and hue––and, despite excellent fossil records, scientists have had a difficult time positioning the flamingo within the avian genetic tree. In Flamingo, Caitlin R. Kight untangles the scientific knowledge about this unusual ornithological wonder and looks at how it has figured in popular culture. Kight presents the flamingo in a concise and accessible way, introducing its detailed scientific history alongside what we know about its often hostile habitats and complex social behavior. She explores its genetic lineage and the confusions it has caused, and she details the significance it has had for many cultures, whether as a spiritual totem or a commercial symbol of the tropical life. She even explains how it gets its extraordinary color (hint: it has to do with its diet). A wonderful resource for any bird lover, Flamingo provides valuable insight into just what makes this flashy-feathered character so special.
Masked bandits of the night, raiders of farm crops and rubbish bins, raccoons are notorious for their indifference to human property and propriety. Yet they are also admired for their intelligence, dexterity, and determination. Raccoons have thoroughly adapted to human-dominated environments—they are thriving in numbers greater than at any point of their evolutionary history, including in new habitats. Raccoon surveys the natural and cultural history of this opportunistic omnivore, tracing its biological evolution, social significance, and image in a range of media and political contexts. From intergalactic misanthropes and despoilers of ancient temples to coveted hunting quarry, unpredictable pet, and symbols of wilderness and racist stereotype alike, Raccoon offers a lively consideration of this misunderstood outlaw species.
From grasshoppers to grubs, an eye-opening look at insect cuisine around the world. An estimated two billion people worldwide regularly consume insects, yet bugs are rarely eaten in the West. Why are some disgusted at the thought of eating insects while others find them delicious? Edible Insects: A Global History provides a broad introduction to the role of insects as human food, from our prehistoric past to current food trends—and even recipes. On the menu are beetles, butterflies, grasshoppers, and grubs of many kinds, with stories that highlight traditional methods of insect collection, preparation, consumption, and preservation. But we not only encounter the culinary uses of creepy-crawlies across many cultures. We also learn of the potential of insects to alleviate global food shortages and natural resource overexploitation, as well as the role of world-class chefs in making insects palatable to consumers in the West.
“A wild portrayal of the passion and spirit of female walkers and the deep sense of ‘knowing’ that they found along the path.”—Raynor Winn, author of The Salt Path “I opened this book and instantly found that I was part of a conversation I didn't want to leave. A dazzling, inspirational history.”—Helen Mort, author of No Map Could Show Them This is a book about ten women over the past three hundred years who have found walking essential to their sense of themselves, as people and as writers. Wanderers traces their footsteps, from eighteenth-century parson’s daughter Elizabeth Carter—who desired nothing more than to be taken for a vagabond in the wilds of southern England—to modern walker-writers such as Nan Shepherd and Cheryl Strayed. For each, walking was integral, whether it was rambling for miles across the Highlands, like Sarah Stoddart Hazlitt, or pacing novels into being, as Virginia Woolf did around Bloomsbury. Offering a beguiling view of the history of walking, Wanderers guides us through the different ways of seeing—of being—articulated by these ten pathfinding women.
Unlike their gaudy day-flying cousins, moths seem to reside in the shadows as denizens of the night, circling around streetlights or caught momentarily in the glare of headlights on a country lane. As Matthew Gandy demonstrates in this book, however, there are many more species of day-flying moths than there are butterflies, and many rival butterflies in a dazzling range of markings. Gandy shows that the study of moths formed an integral part of early natural history. Many thousands of drawings, paintings, and physical specimens remain in museum collections, and in recent years there has been a renewed surge of interest facilitated by advances in digital photography, the internet, and new ca...
From ancient myth to contemporary art and literature, a beguiling look at the many incarnations of the mischievous—and culturally immortal—god Pan. Pan—he of the cloven hoof and lustful grin, beckoning through the trees. From classical myth to modern literature, film, and music, the god Pan has long fascinated and terrified the western imagination. “Panic” is the name given to the peculiar feeling we experience in his presence. Still, the ways in which Pan has been imagined have varied wildly—fitting for a god whose very name the ancients confused with the Greek word meaning “all.” Part-goat, part-man, Pan bridges the divide between the human and animal worlds. In exquisite p...
Feared and revered, the wolf has been admired as a powerful hunter and symbol of the wild and reviled for its danger to humans and livestock. Garry Marvin reveals in Wolf how the ways in which wolves are imagined has had far-reaching implications for how actual wolves are treated by humans. Indigenous hunting societies originally respected the wolf as a fellow hunter, but with the domestication of animals the wolf became regarded as an enemy due to its attacks on livestock. Wolves, as a result, developed a reputation as creatures of evil. In children’s literature, they were depicted as the intruder from the wild who preys on the innocent. And in popular culture, the wolf became the creatur...
Since antiquity, few trees have had a greater impact on the world’s cultures and economies than the mulberry. The sole food of the silkworm, the leaves of the mulberry brought prosperity not only to ancient China, but to all nations that learned the art of silk production. Mulberry bark was used to make the first paper, and the succulent, blood-red fruit of the black mulberry has inspired poets from Ovid to Shakespeare. The medicinal properties of all parts of the tree have been known for millennia, making it a tree of choice for medieval monastery gardens, while its anti-diabetic effects are opening exciting avenues of research today. This sumptuously illustrated book tells the remarkable story of the mulberry tree and its migrations from China and Central Asia to almost every continent of the globe. It will appeal to all who wish to know more of the rich—and often juicy—history of this emblematic tree.