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Adventures in Unhistory: Conjectures on the Factual Foundations of Several… (edition 2006)

by Avram Davidson

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Member:Fabissan
Title:Adventures in Unhistory: Conjectures on the Factual Foundations of Several Ancient Legends
Authors:Avram Davidson
Info:Tor Books (2006), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 320 pages
Collections:To read
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Adventures in Unhistory: Conjectures on the Factual Foundations of Several Ancient Legends by Avram Davidson

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Avram Davidson antaa kirjassaa selityksen monelle fantasiakirjallisuudessa esiintyvälle ilmiölle selittämällä mm. lohikäärmetarujen lähtökohdaksi krokotiilit ja merenneitotarujen lähtökohdaksi metsään hylätyt lapset tai haaksirikkoutuneet vierasmaalaiset. Esimerkiksi Indonesiassa oli 1500-luvulla pidetty vankina vedestä löytynyttä "suurta valkoista meriapinaa". Vankeutensa aikana "meriapina" oli kirjoittanut seinään, jossa oli kahlehdittuna mm. hollantia ja latinaa. Kyseessä oli siis vain paikallisista poikkeava ihminen, jonka kieli oli paikallisille yhtä vieras.

Muita käsiteltäviä myyttejä ovat mm. Sinbadin matkat, Ihmissusi, Feeniks, Hyperborea ja Yksisarvinen. Avramin tyyli kirjoittaa on paikotellen hyvinkin sekava ja vapaata assosisaatiota, mutta kirja säilyttää mielenkiintonsa ja yllättävyytensä.

Toisaalta olen samaa mieltä, että jokaisella myytillä on pohjansa todellisuudessa, mutta että hienoakin hienommat lohikäärmeet selitetään vain krokotiileiksi! Ei, ei ja ei! Jonkinlainen mystisyys pitää säilyttää. Sen takia lohikäärmekin on varmaan saanut tarinoissa suuremmat puitteet kuin mitä nykyisellään krokotiilille annettaisiin.
  Dei_Diamanda | Apr 15, 2011 |
Adventures in Unhistory is a collection of columns in Issac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine by the late Avram Davidson in the 1980's. In these columns, Davidson takes on a mythological/fantastic subject that has fascinated people for centuries, and unwinds its history and origins in popular culture, and tries to find the grain of truth in the mountain of myth and legend.

Its a wonderful set of essays. The style of Davidson is conversational, jovial, joking, digressive but in the end illuminating and entertaining. As I read his analysis of mermaids, werewolves, dragons, Aleister Crowley and others, I could imagine myself in a deli in Manhattan, listening to Davidson over a bagel and coffee explain in a style that has to be read to be fully enjoyed. Here he is in an essay about Sindbad (Sinbad) with one of his side digressions...

In a way, there really was a Sindbad, sort of;his name was Mohammed Ibn Battuta;and he was a Berber, a native of Northwest Africa;if anything, as far as time and territory are involved, he out Sindbaded Sindbad. I believe that he spent something like 34 years in travelling, from Morocco to China, and back again. The only troube is that he didn't draw the long bow near as much. Perhaps he had been influenced by Sindbad, perhaps he was a reincarnation. Even if you have never heard of him you have heard of anyway one of his stories, under the name of the Indian Rope Trick: evidently Ibn Battuta was the first to mention it in writing.

I'm tempted to bring in Ibn Battuta right along here because of his Sindbadian parallels or whatever; or also because his life experiences are so exceedingly interesting. But I think I'll withstand the temptation and perhaps employ him or them some other time...perhaps in and adventure entitled The Man Who Was Sindbad the Sailor. Perhaps...and perhaps not.


Anyway, the book is a real treasure, and I enjoyed it immensely. I can think of a few of my friends who will love this, if they haven't already beaten me to reading Davidson's work.

My only regret is that it was too short. I don't know how many of these columns he actually wrote; if another volume of his columns were collected and published, I'd get it in a heartbeat. ( )
  Jvstin | Oct 18, 2008 |
Have I seriously not written a review for this? It's a supremely fun picaresque journey into the origins of legends, written by someone who deeply loved them. This could actually the best thing Avram Davidson ever wrote. ( )
1 vote selfnoise | Jun 12, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 076530760X, Hardcover)

* Where did Sinbad Sail?
* Who Fired the Phoenix?
* The Boy Who Cried Werewolf
* The Great Rough Beast
* Postscript on Prester John
* The Secret of Hyperborea
* What Gave All Those Mammoths Cold Feet?
 
And many more--fictional? authoritative? fantastic? deadpan?--investigations into the real, the true…and the things that should be true
 
PREFACE BY PETER S. BEAGLE
ILLUSTRATED BY GEORGE BARR
 
"Although the wombat is real and the dragon is not, nobody knows what a wombat looks like and everyone knows what a dragon looks like."
 
Not a novel, not a book of short stories, Adventures in Unhistory is a book of the fantastic--a compendium of magisterial examinations of Mermaids, Mandrakes, and Mammoths; Dragons, Werewolves, and Unicorns; the Phoenix and the Roc; about places such as Sicily, Siberia, and the Moon; about heroic, sinister, and legendary persons such as Sindbad, and Aleister Crowley, and Prester John; and--revealed at last--the Secret of Hyperborea.
 
The facts are here, the foundations behind rumors, legends, and the imaginations of generations of tale-spinners. But far from being dry recitals, these meditations, or lectures, or deadpan prose performances are as lively, as crazily inventive, as witty as the best fiction of the author, a writer praised by Gardner Dozois as "one of the great short story writers of our times."
 
Who, on the subject of Dragons, could write coldly, dispassionately, guided only by logic?  Certainly not Avram Davidson. Certain facts, these facts, deserve more than recitation; they deserve flourish, verve, gusto, style--the late, great Avram Davidson's unique voice.  That prose which, in the words of Peter S. Beagle's Preface to this volume, "cries out to be read aloud."

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:32 -0400)

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