The Natural History of Unicorns by Chris Lavers

The Natural History of Unicorns by Chris Lavers

William Morrow, New York, 2009

Borrowed from the library.

A quirky, fact-filled book that is just exactly what it claims to be.

Chris Lavers traces the history of the Unicorn from ancient Jewish texts, differing translations of the Bible and Greek and Roman writings through to the present-day by digging into ancient writings and drawing connections between the beginning understanding of natural sciences and the diffusion of information throughout the classical world.

Over time people have drawn conclusions about this creature through the amalgamation of fact and hearsay.  Lavers shows how descriptions of  Tibetan Antelopes, Indian Rhinoceros and an animal called a Kiang become a one-horned Ass, and how the Unicorn become an icon in the Middle ages.

Whether you are a believer or scoff at the idea of unicorns and fairies this is a fun and fascinating little book.  And I love the epigraph.

There are two things to avoid when dealing with a legend.  The first is to make too much of it, the other is to disbelieve it entirely.

Harold Mellersh (1967)


Filed under History, Random Reading, Review

4 responses to “The Natural History of Unicorns by Chris Lavers

  1. Eva

    This sounds delightful, and I love that epigraph too! :)

  2. Fantastic epigraph! And I like the cover – great that they chose not to go with a more traditional unicorn image.

  3. Science and mythology? Count me in! How did you come across this book?

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