The Book of Beasts By Th White

I love this book, a translation of a latin bestiary by th white the author of the once and future king. I love the perspective it gives you on the way knowledge is passed down to us. The monks who wrote this book worked from there best available sources, (even if that meant a series of chinese whispers) and their own personal convictions about the shape of the world and their place in it to produce what, though it may seem laughable now, was the best knowledge of animals and the animal kingdom anybody had back then. They wrote that bears bore formless cubs, then licked them, like an ice lolly, into the right shape, that panthers had a sweet-smelling breath that could knock out dragons, that everything around them was a lesson from the god they served. And who are we to say we are any better off? After all, nobody knows anything 'to the far end of a fart' as the saying goes. Our experts use the very same process, adding their own interpretation, and perhaps make even more mistakes than these dedicated men, though with greater amounts of data, and more facts to back up the conclusions they reach rightly or wrongly.

It's a beautiful book, which teaches humility, and admittedly, is also hilarious, and T.H. White does a splendid job of annotating it, with enlightening refernces which illuminate the various paths by which the monks reached their conclusions. And you should see the picture of the crocodile! It's unrecognisable!

Footler Footler
31-35, M
Feb 23, 2009