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210 × 148 × 20 mm
248 pages
100 illustrations, 80 in colour
01 Nov 2017

Swamp Nature and Culture Anthony Wilson

Throughout history, swamps have been idealized and demonized, purged and protected. They are considered to be places of evil, pestilence and death, as well as diverse ecosystems teeming with life. They can be obstacles to development and remnants of fading cultures. Distillations of pure wildness, with menacing morasses and fragile wetlands, swamps have fascinated, terrified, frustrated and sustained us throughout human history.

From swamps and bogs to marshes and wetlands, Swamp ventures into the cultural and ecological histories of these mysterious, mythologized and misunderstood landscapes. It ranges from the freshwater marshes of Botswana’s tremendous Okavango Delta, to the notable swamps between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and the peat bogs in Russia, the British Isles and Scandinavia. It explores ideas and representations of wetlands across centuries, cultures and continents, considering legend and folklore, mythology, literature, film and natural and cultural history.

As it plumbs the murky depths of their complex relationship with people all over the world, from the distant past to the uncertain future, Swamp provides an engaging, accessible, informative and lavishly illustrated journey into these fascinating and mysterious landscapes.

‘Swamps, once deemed tangles of putrefaction and peril, are only now receiving the respect they deserve. That's the dramatic arc of this beautifully illustrated social and literary history of wetlands by Anthony Wilson . . . Historically, swamps have been home to a host of dark imaginings: the nine-headed Hydra of Greek mythology; the grim monster Grendel of Beowulf; the bat-like hag Gwrach-y-Rhibyn of Welsh folklore . . . Wilson’s chapter on swamp horrors draws from a deep well of storytelling, not all of it fictional.’ — Natural History magazine

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Anthony Wilson is an Associate Professor of English at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia. He is the author of Shadow and Shelter: The Swamp in Southern Culture (2006).

Introduction: Terra Incognita

1 Swamp as Home: People of the Swamps

2 Swamp as Quagmire: Obstacle, Trial and Problem

3 Swmap as Horror: Monsters, Miasma and Menace

4 Swamp as Spectacle: Paradise, Sanctuary, Aesthetic Object

Postscript: Paradise Lost? The Swamps’ Uncertain Future

Appendix: An Array of Major World Wetlands




Photo Acknowledgements