Book Review

Rhinoceros by Luke Thompson

small post on a great non-fiction text

People are obsessed with that Albrecht Dürer woodcut of a rhinoceros.

My lover has a (small) version of it tattooed on an arm (in Canada, tattoos are bizarrely commonplace), I once knew someone who did an hour long Edinburgh fringe show about it, and now (well, last year), Broken Sleep Books (the publishers of the superb fragmentary memoir, the pleasure of regret, which I wholeheartedly recommend you buy multiple copies of to gift to friends, lovers, family) published this fun hybrid text by Luke Thompson, which explores not only the life of Gunda, the rhinoceros Dürer woodcutted (that may sound stupid but “made a woodcut of” sounds worse), but also traces the literary historical record of rhinoceroses back through the myriad texts we have from antiquity through to the middle (middle of what?) ages.

Thompson analyses passages from ancient pieces of writing and extant visual representations, he links rhinoceroses to unicorns and compares depictions of the two, he includes freshly-translated passages of obscure pieces of writing, and this all combines together to create a really engaging, informative and often amusing cultural history of the rhino.

There’s also lots about Babar.

Order directly from Broken Sleep Books here.

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