So, this was a fairly random read, if we’re being honest with each other.
I picked it up in the store because I was intrigued by the title, then I was intrigued by the cover, and then I was intrigued by the blurb (this one had a blurb, guys!). Plus, who doesn’t want to read what is essentially a short dictionary of history’s fantastical creatures?
Exactly. So here we are: Borges’ Book of Imaginary Beings.
I have now read a short dictionary of history’s fantastical creatures, and quite honestly I’m of a mind to start hunting down some of the sources quoted in this book as having been referenced in its’ writing, because they sound freaking awesome. It was also really interesting to see how modern depictions of fantastic creatures like dragons and unicorns have evolved (or not, in some cases) from their ancient, first-conceived counterparts.
What I like about this book is that it doesn’t shy away from the nature of these supposed creatures or spirits, in that some are entirely good, yes, but some are entirely bad but despite that serve a cautionary or moral purpose. I’m very much further intrigued now by the literary history and cosmogony of certain older Asiatic and Middle Eastern cultures, because some of the creatures and spirits in this book are wild. It was also an interesting feature of this book that some creatures were written of as though they were entirely made up and acknowledged as such, whereas others are written of as though the writer, at the very least, suspects they do or did exist, somewhere and somewhen.
Well worth a look if you like fantasy, or history, or fantastic history and bestiaries!
Image credit: my picture of my copy of the book