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Gary R.Varner's 2nd edition of "Strangely Wrought Creatures of Life & Death" with more photos of the gargoyles, Green Men and grotesques found around the world, from Vietnam and Turkey to California and Pittsburgh. A must read for anyone interested in ancient symbols and iconography, historic preservation and the development of religion. Available now from Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and other retailers around the world.
The symbols and strange images that we find in our cemeteries, religious structures, banks and in our parks are the same symbols that have been part of the framework of the human psyche for thousands of years. While contemporary man may think that they are simply decorative manifestations of a by-gone era, they represent the fears, dreams, ideas, beliefs and struggles that humankind has endured since we began to walk upright. This book surveys many of these icons and will give a meaning for them both in the context of ancient history and folklore as well as a meaning that is suitable for our contemporary times. Illustrated with dozens of photographs, this book will be of interest to anyone interested in historic preservation, ancient symbolism, the Green Man and the universal application of imagery. Gary R. Varner has written numerous books on ancient traditions, folklore, the environment and contemporary issues. He is a member of the American Folklore Society and the Foundation for Mythological Studies.
Review by Mary Fallon Fleming, Author of
"I loved this book. Now I see the Green Man everywhere!"
Ghostwriter Literary Review 4/9/08
Did you ever wonder what the meaning was behind the carved creatures you find on beautiful, historical buildings? In this book, you will learn their origins, meanings and symbolism. Rather than being created just for looks, some were created with spiritual meanings behind them, such as protection or as sign of warning. Itís obvious that a lot of research went into this.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book due to the fact that Iíve seen some of the carvings pictured in this book and always wondered why they were there. Now I know. I feel this book should be recommended reading for art or architectural history. This would make a great coffee table book as well, as it makes a thought-provoking conversational piece. The only criticism Iíd offer here is just another read-through for small errors, such as minor spelling mistakes. This book comes across as a textbook.
[Authors Note: The "minor spelling" mistakes were identified as words taken in direct quotes from other sources and were usually the result of English spelling as compared to American spelling.]
Epinions Review 2/10/13
Gargoyles, Grotesques & Green Men: Gothic Art With A Curious Twist
Written: Feb 10 '13
Pros:Nice mix of information and imagery, great for history buffs and architecture lovers.
Cons:A little skimpy on technical information.
The Bottom Line: If you love gargoyles, grotesques and gothic art pieces chances are you'll love reading this book.
Gargoyles, Grotesques & Green Men:
Ancient Symbolism in European & American Architecture
If you're looking for a good combination of information and imagery about gargoyles, grotesques and green men this is a good book to check out. I had trouble finding this in local bookstores but did manage to find a copy of it at a library branch. They ordered it for me and it took a couple weeks to arrive but I was pretty impressed with it. I'm still on the fence about whether I'll buy a copy of it because more of what's in it appears in other books I already have but if I come across a copy of it selling for a decent price I will get it. One of the cooler things about the book is that there are a couple of local mentions of gargoyles in the Pittsburgh area, namely those at CMU / Carnegie Mellon University and at a color of local churches. The coverage is worldwide and even if you think that there aren't stone monsters in your area, chances are they are there and you've never taken notice of them.
The book works in a couple of ways; it explores the evolution of the gargoyle, how it has been used in form and function and how they are used in modern architecture as well as providing visual examples of the vast myriad of styles.
Regardless of where they are located, they are interesting and show a lot of the different versions of gargoyles and grotesques that you might come across. One of the really amazing photos is from the Presbyterian Church [yes, the one with the red doors] that shows an odd parrot hybrid gargoyle. Along with the parrot are also an eagle and lion; while they are strange looking from the street view the photos in the book give you a nicer representation of them. Their non-typical bodies and intricate weave-work show some of the intense style of the area. I knew of most of the grotesques on the building but only a few are shown in this book. If nothing else, this serves as pure unadulterated fodder for gargoyle lovers to head out and try to find more of them on buildings in the downtown area.
The text information with the photos is minimal but the chapters that cover the origins of gargoyles provides a good primer for those just getting in to the unique form of art. Most people know that they were originally created as a way to drain water off of rooftops and away from buildings but the deeper meanings and cultural influences are covered in detail but chances are if you are in to the theme you are going to want to seek out more information on some of the images like Mission San Luis Rey gargoyle that has a non-typical design to it and has a port spout for water to drain directly out of the spout from the ground behind it instead of it draining water from a roof. These types of pieces were used as a way to make use of rainwater through a series of ditches or carved groves in the ground. A gargoyle and a grotesque are similar except a grotesque serves no real function outside of being an artistic piece.
The religious side of using gargoyles and grotesques on buildings is covered but it can be a little confusing because of the wording. A vast majority of gargoyles and grotesques that were used on buildings were mostly for functional purposes; to drain water away from the structure or to cover imperfections or exposed areas that were the result of different designers working on one building at different times. Some were created to ward off evil or to protect the building when it was empty which is something that is still foreign to some people as they see the creatures as being scary, demonic or creepy. The book also covers some of the different types of stone that were used for the sculpts and which ones faired better than others. Some of the images are taken from well known locations like Westminster Abbey, Notre Dame, Hampton Court, Fletcher-Sinclair House, St. John The Devine, The Woolworth Building, Saint Rumbolds Cathedral and the amazing muted green hybrids on the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church. You are also getting a lot of lesser known gargoyles and grotesques; some of these are going to require some outside research if you like their look or want to know more about the artist that was commissioned to do them, if they were strictly restorative pieces and their origins.
You are getting some good coverage and visual examples of green men but most people aren't really going to associate them with gargoyles or grotesques. They are made in the same way as the gargoyles but they have a different appearance; instead of being threatening or gory they are more mystical in form. Most of these are more for aesthetic quality rather than function but there are some that are incredibly beautiful. Most of them are framed by leaves or have a heavy nature feel to them; some of them are surrounded with a starburst or sun while others are hidden inside another design. Personally I don't identify these are being in the same category as grotesques but you'll often see them together on larger buildings that have had extensive work or repairs made on them. They can be used to cover building imperfections or to soften hard lines. On the cover of the book you'll find a great example of what a 'green man' is; chances are you have seen these but never really knew what they were called.
This isn't a coffee table book that's jam packed with nothing but photos; there's a lot of information in it and the photos are just the icing on the cake. If I came across a used copy that was in decent shape I would get it just because of the numerous Pittsburgh references but the lowest price I have seen on a used copy in better-than-average condition in is the $40.00 range. If it had more technical information or a wider scope of grotesques to it I would buy it regardless of price but at 180 pages it's not beefy enough to be added for more than about $15.00.
^V^ © Freak369 - 2013 ^V^
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Reader Reviews for "Gargoyles, Grotesques & Green Men: Ancient Symbolism in European..."
|Reviewed by Mary Fallon Fleming
|I loved this book. Now I see the Green Man everywhere!|