In this stunning assemblage of words and images, novelist and avid birdwatcher Graeme Gibson offers an extraordinary tribute to the venerable relationship between humans and birds.
From the Aztec plumed serpent to the Christian dove to Plato's vision of the human soul growing wings, religion and philosophy use birds to represent our aspirational selves. Winged creatures appear in mythology and folk tales, and in literature by writers as diverse as Ovid, Thoreau, and T. S. Eliot. They've been omens, allegories, and guides; they've been worshipped, eaten, and feared. Birds figure tellingly in the work of such nature writers as Gilbert White and Peter Matthiessen, and are synonymous with the science of Darwin. Gibson spent years collecting this gorgeously illustrated celebration of centuries of human response to the delights of the feathered tribes. The Bedside Book of Birds is for everyone who is intrigued by the artistic forms that humanity creates to represent its soul.
“[Gibson]’s book is a stunner. The wealth of imagery and the range of intelligence are grand, the kinds of relationships with birds he sets out nearly bewildering…. Gorgeous…. It’s what I’ll take to bed tonight to incite my dreams.”
Graeme Gibson was born in London, Ontario, in 1934. He was the author of three novels, Five Legs (1969), Communion (1971) and Perpetual Motion (1982), and of two bedside companions, The Bedside Book of Birds (2005) and The Bedside Book of Beasts (2009). An important spokesman for Canadian cultural identity, Gibson was the initial organizer and a founding member of the Writers' Union of Canada, and was its chairman in 1976. He was also an organizer and founding member of the Writers' Trust, a non-profit organization, and was subsequently its chairman. From 1987 to 1989, he was president of the Canadian Centre of International PEN. In 1990, he won a Toronto Arts Award for writing and publishing, and, in 1992 he received the Order of Canada. Graeme Gibson died in September 2019.