17 November 1995

Creatures, old

and new, great

and small…

THE editors success in achieving the wide range that they aimed for, with seemingly no creature, style, period, genre or tone excluded, means that there is little that holds the book* together as an anthology. It is difficult as a "serious read" because the writing styles are so varied: Pliny the Elder, Montaigne, D &#42 Lawrence, Gerald Durrell.

From DNA to Tigers, to the mythical Phoenix, all creatures are here, but Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll sits not a little uneasily with Philip Larkins Myxomatosis and the link between a poem on DNA by Les Murray (b1938) and John Donnes amusing seduction poem The Flea of some three centuries earlier, is difficult to see.

However, this anthology can probably be dipped into by all who enjoy reading, for there is something for everyone. I loved the writings of Hillaire Belloc, and there are plenty of entertaining snippets to encourage further reading in a particular field or author – Im off to the library to read more of Konrad Lorenz. JN

*The Oxford Book of Creatures, is edited by Fleur Adcock and Jacqueline Simms, and published by Oxford University Press (£17.99).