The Land of the Green Man

15 Feb

When I was a child I would sit curled up against my father’s legs in the sunshine, or cuddled on his lap of an evening, and listen to him tell me tales.  Not fairy tales or nursery rhymes, but stories of Finn Mac Cool, of gods and heroes, Maori myths, of my immediate family, and of my ancestors.  I understood what a selkie was long before I ever saw a seal.  Old fashioned story telling.  The ancient way of teaching by stories, really.

Thus I was delighted to open Carolyne Larrington’s book “The Land of the Green Man – A Journey through the Supernatural Landscapes of the British Isles” and found my favourite Finn Mac Cool story related, along with many others I remember.

Rather than trudge all over the green and pleasant land, Carolyne tells stories by genre as much as by area.  There are tales of life, of death, of love: all the grand sweep of human experience.

The thing I do like most about this book is the way it links the past with the present.  Black Shuk leads to the Hound of the Baskervilles.  J K Rowling, Ben Aaronovitch, and Neil Gaiman’s wonderful works are mentioned throughout.  Especially where they blend seamlessly with the tales from the past.

One gets the feeling that the tradition of folk tales in the United Kingdom is a strong as it ever was.  Not least because of the novels of the writers mentioned above, but also because of scholars such as Professor Larrington.

If you love folklore and enchantment combined in a highly readable, absorbing, and entertaining manner, then this book is a must for you.

Highly recommended on all levels.

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