An extraordinary compilation where the paradigmatic struggle
between observation and vision so crucial to the Fantastic is
constantly played out. By the time of the early Enlightenment,
the Bestiary, like its more recnent relative the Encyclopedia,
participates in the totalizing intent of a catalogue whose purpose
is the scientific understanding of the world. Empirical observation
banishes from these increasingly imposing tomes any creatures
that have not been observed in their environment. So the unicorn
and the dragon, the griffon and the sea serpent, and all their
relations take refuge in the annals of folklore, until the fantastic
and its adjudant, surrealism, release them once more into literary
discourse from the prisons where rational inquiry had consigned
View Images: Bestiary
- Roland Schaer, ed. Tous les savoirs du monde. Paris:
Flammarion/ Bibliothèque Nationale de France, 1996.
- Baxter, Ron. Bestiaries and their Users in the Middle Ages.
London: Alan Sutton/ The Courtauld, 1998.
- Borges: The Book of Imaginary Beings, Dream-Tigers.
- Angela Carter, Burning Your Boats.
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