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The Mummy's Foot and the Big Toe: Feet and Imaginative Promise
by Alan Krell
Reaktion Books, 2018
eISBN: 978-1-78023-956-9 | Cloth: 978-1-78023-915-6

The foot—we know it well. Small or large, attractive or unsightly, clean-smelling or foul, it is quite literally the support that carries us through the day. But while the foot may seem nothing more than banal and basic, this familiar assemblage of heel and toes also treads unlikely ground. Some of these sites are real, others are imaginary, and in this quirky and surprising history, Alan Krell strolls the many planes of the foot’s meaning. Looking at the absurd and abject, the innocent and the nastily subversive, the romantic and fetishistic, Krell reevaluates the foot’s place in society and frames it as a thing both commonplace and exceptional. 

The Mummy’s Foot and the Big Toe explores the innumerable appearances of the foot in literature, photography, art, sports, and film. Walk with Krell as he discovers gothic tales by French writer Théophile Gautier, disturbing photographs by François Boiffard, and religious paintings by Giotto, Tintoretto, and Caravaggio that all exalt the foot. Marvel with him at the sporting exploits of elite barefoot runners such as Abebe Bikila and Zola Budd, and the surprising representation of the foot in films such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Kill Bill. Blending insights from the humanities, language studies, the social sciences, and anthropology, and presenting a wealth of tantalizing new images and ideas of the foot, The Mummy’s Foot and the Big Toe will help us all to be better acquainted with the soul and sole of our bottom-most appendage.

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