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BIC Excellence Award

Art, Symbolism and Mythology

By Axel Müller, Christopher Halls and Ben Williamson

This edition is not available yet.
Hardback, 160 pages £45.00
Published: 2022
ISBN: 9781804130032
Buy this Book

This edition is not available yet.
EPUB, 160 pages £45.00
Published: 2022
ISBN: 9781804130049
Buy this Book

Subjects: Art & Art History

Women with fish tails are among the oldest and still most popular of mythological creatures, possessing a powerful allure and compelling ambiguity. They dwell right in the uncanniest valley of the sea: so similar to humans, yet profoundly other. Mermaids: Art, Symbolism and Mythology presents a comprehensive, interdisciplinary and beautifully illustrated study of mermaids and their influence on Western culture. The roots of mermaid mythology and its metamorphosis through the centuries are discussed with examples from visual art, literature, music and architecture—from 600 BCE right up to the present day.

Our story starts in Mesopotamia, source of the earliest preserved illustrations of half-human, half-fish creatures. The myths and legends of the Mesopotamians were incorporated and adopted by ancient Greek, Etruscan and Roman cultures. Then, during the early medieval period, ancient mythological creatures such as mermaids were confused, transformed and reinterpreted by Christian tradition to begin a new strand in mermaid lore. Along the way, all manner of stunning—and sometimes bizarre or unsettling—depictions of mermaids emerged. Written in an accessible and entertaining style, this book challenges conventional views of mermaid mythology, discusses mermaids in the light of evolutionary theory and aims to inspire future studies of these most curious of imaginary creatures.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.47788/DIJI2771

Mermaids offers a compelling overview of the emergence of the mermaid myth in western culture, beginning in the ancient cultures of the eastern Mediterranean.  The primary focus is on examples from art (beautifully and generously illustrated) and literature, but the authors also engage with science and pseudoscience.

- Harriet Ritvo, author of The Platypus and the Mermaid and Arthur J. Conner Professor of History Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

A great deal of fascinating information and fabulous illustrations about a topic most of us have hardly even considered, and yet the topic entails a motif in Western culture that extends back to earliest times.

- Professor Robert Marc Friedman, University of Oslo

This beautifully-illustrated, well-researched, delightful book is sure to please anyone interested in the origins of mermaids, and why we still find them so intriguing. Its various genealogical maps, tables, and charts are worth the purchase price alone.

- Vaughn Scribner, author of Merpeople: A Human History

Axel Müller is Professor in Mineralogy and Petrology at the Natural History Museum of the University of Oslo in Norway. He has a strong interdisciplinary geoscience career and teaches economic geology. The late Christopher Halls was awarded a PhD in Geology in 1969 from University College London. He worked as a geologist in Canada and then as a lecturer at Imperial College, London. Following retirement he became a Scientific Associate of the Natural History Museum. Ben Williamson is an Associate Professor in Applied Mineralogy at University of Exeter. His research has focused on the nature and origin or granites and associated mineralisation, and the environmental impacts of mining. He is also dedicated to teaching and inspiring the next generation of geologists. 

Publication Details:

 Hardback , 160 pages

 EPUB , 160 pages

 University of Exeter Press


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