A new series from the University of Wales Press, introduced by series editors Dr Diane Heath and Dr Victoria Blud.
Animals are good to think with, wrote Claude Lévi-Strauss, and ‘Medieval Animals’ is designed to enable the curious reader to do just that. The aim of this series is to promote work that challenges preconceptions about medieval creatures, and advances scholarship on medieval animal studies. The series embraces a range of formats – a combination of entry-level short works, primary source readers, and academic monographs – to provide a full range of innovative texts to enrich and inform everyone interested in medieval animals and animality. The first book in the series is Introducing the Medieval Dragon by Thomas Honegger.
Dragons fired the medieval imagination – far more than just reptilian adversaries for the hero to overcome, dragons were dangerous, potent, and polyvalent. In the medieval bestiary, the dragon is the king of serpents who stalks the elephant on its way to Eden, but nevertheless hides down a hole from the sweet breath of the panther which represents the Word of God. In a time without anaesthetic, dragons were used as metaphors for the pain of childbirth in the hagiographies of St Margaret. Despite their mostly bad press, dragons also had a good side, and in scholarship they also provide a focus for disquisitions on wisdom and the art of logical argument. Honegger’s book introduces the medieval dragon via a rich but clear account of its natural history and its place in religious imagery, literature, folklore, and pop culture – and shows how, from Beowulf to Tolkien, Disney to Potter, the dragon is continually slain but constantly revived.
The press’s reviewer wrote ‘I read the book over the course of one evening non-stop and I think it is wonderful: scholarly but engagingly written, wide ranging and with intriguing ideas that will have the reader – whether academic, student, or general reader – continuing to think about the topic long after they have read it and will leave them even more enthusiastic about dragons.’
Series editors: Dr Diane Heath, Canterbury Christ Church University, and Dr Victoria Blud, University of York.