cover of book

by Katarzyna Michalski and Sergiusz Michalski
Reaktion Books, 2010
eISBN: 978-1-86189-888-3 | Paper: 978-1-86189-775-6
Library of Congress Classification QL458.4.M53 2010
Dewey Decimal Classification 595.44


Both fascinating and frightening, the spider has a rich symbolic presence in the imagination. At once a representative of death, due to its fangs and dangerous poison, the spider can also represent life and creation, because of its intricate web and females who carry sacs of thousands of tiny eggs. In this wide-ranging book, Katarzyna and Sergiusz Michalskiinvestigate the natural history and cultural significance of the spider.

            From ancient Greek myth to Dostoyevsky, the authors explore the appearance of spiders in literature and their depictions in art, paying particular attention to the sculptures of Louise Bourgeois. Horror stories, science fiction, folklore, and children’s tales are also investigated, as well as the affliction of arachnophobia and the procedures used to cure it. The association of the spider with women or mothers is explored alongside the role of the spider metaphor in Freudian and Jungian psychoanalysis, and the Michalskis’ in-depth account concludes with a look at the unfavorable portrayal of the sinister spider in film.

            A thorough and engaging look at the natural and cultural history of the spider, this book will appeal to anybody who admires or fears this delicate yet dangerous creature.

See other books on: Animals and civilization | Folklore | Human-animal relationships | Mythology | Symbolic aspects
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