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200 × 120 mm
192 pages
63 illustrations, 44 in colour
11 Jun 2018

The Mummy’s Foot and the Big Toe Feet and Imaginative Promise Alan Krell

In this quirky and surprising history, Alan Krell addresses the absurd and abject, the banal and the nastily subversive, and the romantic and fetishistic, as he describes the appearance of the foot in literature, photography, art, sport and film. Discover the gothic tales of French writer Théophile Gautier, the disturbing photographs of Jacques-André Boiffard and the religious paintings by Giotto, Tintoretto and Caravaggio that exalt the foot. Marvel at the sporting exploits of elite runners such as Abebe Bikila and Zola Budd, and the surprising representation of the foot in films such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1939) and Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003). Presenting new images and ideas of the foot in a tantalizing way, The Mummy’s Foot and the Big Toe is for all those with an interest in the humanities, languages, social sciences and anthropology.

EXTRACT: to read and download an extract from the book please click here.

‘This book delves into the deeper world of feet . . . Krell seeks to understand the reactions of writers, photographers, artists and normal people to feet through history . . . It is an arcane and sometimes circuitous journey across time, one which reveals some interesting things about our soles and our souls.’ – The Observer, Sydney

‘those with a taste for such things will probably find plenty to enjoy in a book that ranges from the bare foot as symbol of freedom to the foot as “etish and fancy, object of desire and of abjection, and vehicle for the comic, the absurd and the empowering” in the context of literature, art, sport and film. Krell is not one to shy away from pedal metaphors, aphorisms and puns, so to say that this is a huge task for a stocking-filler of a book is not altogether inappropriate . . . Krell has an eye for the odd, certainly, and there are some fascinating illustrations . . . not many authors would be able to get Zola Budd, Mary Magdalene and Uma Thurman into the same book.’ – The Spectator

‘Alan Krell’s observations and commentary are worthy of the array of literature and art he discusses – creative, imaginative, incisive. He picks up where notables such as Théophile Gautier, Georges Bataille, and Charlie Chaplin left off, exploring the cultural implications of what we do about feet: from fetishizing them, to binding them, to racing with them shoeless, to perceiving their nakedness as innocence.’ – Professor Richard Shiff, The University of Texas at Austin

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Alan Krell was recently Associate Professor in Art History at UNSW Art and Design, Sydney, where he worked for over two decades. He now lives in London. His books include Manet and the Painters of Contemporary Life (1996), The Devil’s Rope: A Cultural History of Barbed Wire (Reaktion, 2002) and Burning Issues: Fire in Art and the Social Imagination (Reaktion, 2011).

1 The Mummy’s Foot
2 The Big Toe and the Strange Feet
3 The Sacred, the Dirty and the Shocking
4 Baring Your Sole
5 The Filmic Foot

Photo Acknowledgements