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Distributed for Reaktion Books


Once described as the “fastest, hairiest, most lascivious, and most melancholy” of mammals, the hare was also believed to never close its eyes, occasionally grow horns, and have the ability to change its sex. More than just a speedy, but lazy, character in popular children’s fables, the hare is remarkable for its actual behavior and the intriguing myths that have developed around it. Here, Simon Carnell examines how this animal has been described, symbolized, visually depicted, and sought for its fur, flesh, and exceptional speed.  

            Carnell tracks the hare from ancient Egypt, where a hieroglyph of a hare stood for the concept of existence itself, to Crucifixion scenes, Buddhist lore, and Algonquin creation myths, to the serial works of Joseph Beuys, and even to an art installation in a Dutch brothel. The hare shows up in both surprising and expected places—it was the principal subject of the first hunting treatise, it appears in the first signed and dated picture of a single animal, and it was credited in early medicine with the most curative properties of any animal.

            Combining recent natural history with an extensive and richly illustrated focus on visual art, Hare is highly accessible and packed with details about a historically fascinating animal.

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230 pages | 40 color plates, 60 halftones | 5 3/8 x 7 1/2 | © 2010


Biological Sciences: Natural History

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“The newest in Reaktion’s wonderful series of richly illustrated books dedicated to individual animals, this is the first monograph in 35 years on one of the most fascinating of British animals. It considers the hare in history and art through the ages, explores its symbolic values, and provides the latest thinking on its behavior, capabilities and physical nature.” —Country Life

Country Life

“In Hare, Simon Carnell trawls through the art, legend, law and literature of this elusive quadruped that has had a more-than-fleeting presence in our culture . . . an intriguing survey.”

New Statesman

 “A quite fascinating book that seemed to be the epitome of this fabulous animal. A must read—and at what a bargain price.” —Highland News

Highland News (UK)

"I love the hare book."

Paul Muldoon

"The hunted, the subversive, the lascivious and the victim: the hare has been many things during its lengthy history and Simon Carnell’s delightful pocket-sized book presents the story in an ingenious fashion. Natural history is blended with beautiful illustrations as the hare’s place in myth, art, religion and the sporting sphere is delicately interwoven."


Table of Contents

1   Lagographia Curiosa: The Natural and Unnatural History of the Hare
2   Mythic Hare
3   Hunted Hare
4   Painted and Plastic Hare
5   Hare Poetry, Hare Thought

Epilogue: Hare Writing

Select Bibliography
Associations and Websites
Photo Acknowledgements

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