Dragons in Zoology, Cryptozoology, and Culture (Coachwhip Publishing: Greenville, Ohio, 2013); ISBN 978-1-61646-215-4. Hb, illustrated throughout, 219 pp.
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Of all the countless legendary beasts that have been conjured forth from the seemingly limitless capacity of the human imagination, none can remotely compare with the dragon for its sheer diversity of form, its symbolic significance, and its cross-cultural presence. Dragons are everywhere – still glimpsed in the living, breathing beasts around us that inspired and engendered their birth in our far-distant ancestors’ dreams, and nightmares; perennially encountered in the myriad of traditional myths and folklore woven into the fabric of every creed and culture around the world; and ever-visible within the innumerable outpourings of artistic creation that have graced and enhanced our species’ existence across all temporal, political, social, and geographical boundaries.
So from where, and from what, has such widespread – indeed, worldwide – belief in dragons stemmed? Remarkably, the unparalleled variety and complexity of dragon forms that have arisen through the ages provide a startlingly close parallel to the natural evolution of real animal species. Moreover, these many forms are linked in innumerable and often unexpected ways to their putative antecedents within the living world – because there can be no doubt that a major factor influencing the origin of the dragon is early humanity's observations and interactions with various distinctive and potentially inimical creatures of reality sharing our world.
Equally thought-provoking is how and why the dragon has become so intimately associated with our own species. This multi-faceted monster of mythology is more than amply represented visually, for example, by artwork of every conceivable style, age, and category - from classic paintings, temple statues, tattoos, and digital art to cartoons, costumes, ornaments, heraldic emblems, and so much more. And the dragon's symbolic status in religion, dreams, alchemy, psychology, astrology, and other fields is as compelling as it is complex. Nor can anyone overlook the prominent role and immense, continuing popularity of this extraordinary beast in contemporary literature, music, films, computer games, and other media.
More dramatic still is the astonishing prospect that our enduring infatuation with dragons may even be intimately linked with preserved racial memories dating right back to the precarious survival of our species' most ancient ancestors in prehistoric times, when the world was dominated by real giant reptiles. These many diverse but equally captivating themes are all fully explored in this spellbinding book's uniquely comprehensive coverage, and provide ample confirmation that there is no sign whatsoever of waning interest for what must surely be the most vibrant, tenacious, and fascinating creature that has never existed – the dragon.
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