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Reviews and Awards:

 

  • “Speaking as someone fascinated by all animals from earliest childhood, I found Imaginary Animals to be an intriguing and thought-provoking discovery. Scholarly and well-researched, without being either ponderous or condescending, it is written with real wit, and with a contagious delight in its subject rare in such a study. I would recommend it enthusiastically to anyone interested in the astonishing range of folkloric, religious, cultural, philosophic and political symbolism with which human beings have regarded and ceaselessly recreated real animals in our time together on this planet.” Peter S. Beagle, author of The Last Unicorn
  • "A thought-provoking analysis of bestial creations, this illustrated compendium by Boria Sax scrutinizes artistic and literary models, ranging from Chauvet cave art from 36,000 BCE to political cartoons, graphic Japanese novels, and postmodern robotics. Conclusions about the nature and purpose of fantasy animals draw on scripture, anthropology, medicine, myth, and psychology . . . An intriguing, highly readable reference work at a low price, Sax’s multifaceted work covers a host of reference needs. Recommended." – M. E. Snodgrass, Choice, April 2014 
  • "Author Boria Sax argues that monsters help us by giving concrete form to our fears, while ‘wonders’ incarnate our hopes. Enlisting cultural support, weather from Hieronymus Bosch or PT Barnum, this teacher at Sing Sing prison shows how mermaids and dragons, even superheroes and Tamagochis, help us measure what it means to be human. A well illustrated and philosophically sophisticated book." – World of Interiors 
  • "One of his last insights helps us see into the future of animal creation and human re-creation: “All animals, no matter whether they exist or in what sense, are products of the same dialectic of reality and imagination” (250). His book’s intention has been to reveal just such a truth; it points us to the larger questions of the nature of reality, our role in creating it and being shaped by it, and our quest to see through what is known to the mystery of what still remains invisible, unknown and waiting...."
    Dennis Patrick Slattery, Pacifica Graduate Institute
    Alumni Association

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.
Book Description:
 
Fire-breathing dragons, beautiful mermaids, majestic unicorns, terrifying three-headed dogs—these fantastic creatures have long excited our imagination. Medieval authors placed them in the borders of manuscripts as markers of the boundaries of our understanding. Tales from around the world place these beasts in deserts, deep woods, remote islands, ocean depths, and alternate universes—just out of our reach. And in the sections on the apocalypse in the Bible, they proliferate as the end of time approaches, with horses with heads like lions, dragons, and serpents signaling the destruction of the world.
 
Legends tell us that imaginary animals belong to a primordial time, before everything in the world had names, categories, and conceptual frameworks. In this book, Boria Sax digs into the stories of these fabulous beasts. He shows how, despite their liminal role, imaginary animals like griffins, dog-men, yetis, and more are socially constructed creatures, created through the same complex play of sensuality and imagination as real ones. Tracing the history of imaginary animals from Paleolithic art to their roles in stories such as Harry Potter and even the advent of robotic pets, he reveals that these extraordinary figures help us psychologically—as monsters, they give form to our amorphous fears, while as creatures of wonder, they embody our hopes. Their greatest service, Sax concludes, is to continually challenge our imaginations, directing us beyond the limitations of conventional beliefs and expectations.
 
Featuring over 230 illustrations of a veritable menagerie of fantastical and unreal beasts, Imaginary Animals is a feast for the eyes and the imagination.

              

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.