STORIES RABBITS TELL: A Natural and Cultural History of a Misunderstood Creature

Susan E. Davis, Author, Margo DeMello, Author . Lantern $20 (144p) ISBN 978-1-59056-044-0

"Most people approach rabbits as if they were stuffed animals: cute, but not capable of much except, maybe, eating carrots and twitching their noses," note Davis (writer and rabbit owner) and DeMello (president of the House Rabbit Society), who present quite a different picture: rabbits (and hares) are complex, social creatures intertwined with human culture. To date, no book has so closely examined the behavior and place of the rabbit—as pet, prey, pest and mythic figure—in history. As the only animal Westerners use as both pet and meat, the rabbit reflects some of our most unsettling cultural contradictions. Part literary companion, with analyses of rabbits in art and literature from poet William Cowper to Beatrix Potter, and part clear-eyed review of facts on rabbit "industry" and rabbit biology, this volume imparts insight into the genesis of pet keeping, the fur industry and the permutations of rabbits in folklore. With colorful anecdotes (including one about introducing Jack, a rabbit grieving for his mate, to new friends), this absorbing book opens the door on the realm of all things lagomorph. The prevalence of rabbits in folklore (as fools, mischief makers and sexualized witches) reveals just how much baggage this small creature has carried, up through the age of the Playboy Bunny. (July)

Reviewed on: 06/02/2003
Release date: 03/01/2003
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