BOOK REViEW: The Green Man, Mike Harding

I arrived at the point of collecting a few A Little Book of this, that or the other titles, all by Mike Harding, in a roundabout way.

Having adored the Cosgrove Hall animated film of The Wind In The Willows, I was seeking out other similar stuff. This lead to Cosgrove Hall’s much harder to track down The Reluctant Dragon, another Kenneth Grahame adaptation.

It transpired that Mike Harding did the music for the latter. So I wound up checking him out a bit more. And so it was I found the series of Past Times titles from which series this comes.

An alternative edition.*

I got four – on green men, gargoyles, misericords and tombs and monuments – all of which are roughly six inches by six inches square. So far I’ve only looked at this Green Man entry. It has approx 60 colour images of its subject, along with a little explanatory text for them all.

I hope they’re all as good as this one. It’s delightful. Harding speculates on their origins, meanings, etc, and the ways in which green men can be found in many traditions and places. But his main focus is on how these so very pagan images populate so many Christian sites in the UK.

A rare full-bodied green man, St Leonard’s, Linley, Shropshire.

And he also draws some more secular and even up to the minute inferences from the study of his subject; ‘the Green man … has a story to tell – if only we knew how to listen.’ Amen to that, brother Harding, Amen!

A great little gem of a book. Highly recommended.

* A better and nicer cover image and design than the edition I wound up with, which is pictured at the top of this post.

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