The Land of the Green Man
Tauris Academic Studies
August 30, 2015
Beyond its housing estates and identikit high streets there is another Britain. This is the Britain of mist-drenched forests and unpredictable sea-frets: of wraith-like fog banks, druidic mistletoe and peculiar creatures that lurk, half-unseen, in the undergrowth, tantalising and teasing just at the periphery of human vision. How have the remarkably persistent folkloric traditions of the British Isles formed and been formed by the psyches of those who inhabit them? In this sparkling new history, Carolyne Larrington explores the diverse ways in which a myriad of fantastical beings has moulded the nation s cultural history. Fairies, elves and goblins here tread purposefully, sometimes malignly, over an eerie landscape that also conceals brownies, selkies, trows, knockers, boggarts, land-wights, Jack o Lanterns, Barguests, the sinister Nuckleavee and Black Shuck: terrifying hell-hound of the Norfolk coast with eyes of burning coal. Ranging from Shetland to Jersey and from Ireland to East Anglia, while evoking the Wild Hunt, the ghostly bells of Lyonesse and the dread fenlands haunted by Grendel, this is a book that will captivate all those who long for the wild places: the mountains and chasms where giants lie in wait."
Carolyne Larrington’s book explores, in a well informed way, the richness of the folklore of Great Britain. There is an effective informative introduction as to what the book is about and what will be covered. This book is literary ranging very widely from Tolkien to Game of Thrones & Harry Potter with many in between. It takes a deep look into the myth and legends of mostly the British Isles, though touching on other areas, frequently comparing with literature ancient & modern.
Taking the chapter “Black Dog” as an example, Essex, East Anglia, Winston Churchill, Nick Drake, a local folk group, Jersey, Conan-Doyle, Dartmoor, the Welsh borders, Mark Gatiss, Harry Potter all manage to get into the early part of the chapter. After that the author ranges far more widely on the general topic and related topics. My copy was a prepublication copy however the index seemed to be pretty comprehensive as would be essential and very useful in such a book.
This was a delightful read for anyone interested in the folklore of Great Britain and also the use of that folklore in literature. My feeling having finished the book is that I need to start it again and allow myself a deeper immersion in it.
Note – I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review