White’s The Bestiary: A Book of Beasts was the first and, for a time, the only English translation of a medieval bestiary. Bestiaries were second only to the Bible in their popularity and wide distribution during the Middle Ages. They were catalogs of animal stories, combining zoological information, myths, and legends. Great attention was given to bizarre, exotic, and monstrous creatures. Much of the content of bestiaries was drawn from much older sources including Aristotle, early English literature, and oral traditions. White provides an excellent appendix that explains how the creatures of the bestiary influenced the development of allegory and symbolism in art and literature.
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