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Flights of Fancy: Birds in Myth, Legend, and…

Flights of Fancy: Birds in Myth, Legend, and Superstition

by Peter Tate

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691173,491 (3.5)8



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THIS IS NOT A BOOK ABOUT BIRDS. It's a book about myths. It's a beautiful little cadeau I got from a certain Turkish gentleman. It's proof that even major publishers *can* make a beautiful book when they want to.


So, the author is this British ornithologist (remember now!) who's long been fascinated by the lore that surrounds our feathered brethren. He's spent a long career collecting the tales, the rhymes, the myths that envious humans have made part of their relationship to revenant dinosaurs. We're horribly jealous that they can fly, so we make them bearers of the luck we long for or the curses we dread (why are magpies considered bad luck, anyway? They're gorgeous, that's why, and us ugly nekkid apes are eaten up with resentment).

I loved the author's learned yet witty voice, though I can see many peole being turned off by it. He's not at all afraid to use his vocabulary, which I see all too seldom in books. More often than not, when I see an author use Big Words, he or she seems almost apologetic or embarrassed to know more than the Common Person. Faugh! Pshaw! Be smart and proud of it! Mr. Tate accomplishes that feat. He doesn't seem to worry about being accused of snobbery at all, which is admirable.

This beautiful volume is perfect for leaving on the coffee table, for visual pleasure; and for the browsability of its text, which lends itself to host-fetching-the-canapes reading, with subsequent chat about the interesting things one's guest has just learned. I love it, and not just because my sweetie gave it to me. ( )
8 vote richardderus | Aug 27, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385342489, Hardcover)

The perfect bedside companion for every bird-watcher and nature lover, inside Flights of Fancy you’ll find:

“Don’t promise the crane in the sky, but give the titmouse in your hand.”
Russian proverb

“One for sorrow, two for joy…”
Traditional English rhyme

“The owl shrieked at thy birth, an evil sign.”
Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part III

“The peacock is ashamed of its large black feet.”
Medieval Persian tradition

“When the raven tried to bring fire to the world, ash turned its feathers black.”
Cherokee Indian legend

“Sewing a swan’s feather into your husband’s pillow will keep him faithful.”
British superstition

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:36 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

An illustrated odyssey into the world of birds looks at the myths, legends, and superstitions surrounding some of the world's best-known birds, drawing on traditions from around the world to explore the stories of some thirty avian species.

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