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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything a Green Man book ought to be (but seldom is...)
In a field dominated by books representing the wholly unfounded pagan Green Man hypothesis, how welcome Richard Hayman's book will be to those weary to see the facts of the case given the authoritative representation only recently seen in Mercia McDermott's 'Explore Green Men' (Heart of Albion, 2002). That the Green Man has been mistaken by successive generations of...
Published on 17 Jun 2010 by Sedayne

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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not quite a historian's view
Richard Hayman has set out in this book to prove that the 'green man' originated in churches as a Christian symbol, deriving directly from illuminated manuscripts of the 10th - 12th Centuries. He dismisses any thought that the image has a clear line of descent from other sources and pays lip service to the academic work of other researchers who would suggest that the...
Published on 12 Jun 2010 by D. Stuart Hammond


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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not quite a historian's view, 12 Jun 2010
This review is from: The Green Man (Shire Library) (Paperback)
Richard Hayman has set out in this book to prove that the 'green man' originated in churches as a Christian symbol, deriving directly from illuminated manuscripts of the 10th - 12th Centuries. He dismisses any thought that the image has a clear line of descent from other sources and pays lip service to the academic work of other researchers who would suggest that the image may have come from India or may embody pre christian ideas. Further he uses highly charged and emotive language when describing the many examples of foliate heads describing them variously as 'satanic', 'demonic', 'sinful' and 'hideous' when attempting to justify his idea that these sculptures always symbolise evil or poor morals. Under the image of one misericord depicting a bearded, tricephalos, (three headed) disgorging head with crown; sprouting foliage that appears to be a vine on one side and unidentified foliage from the other. Hayman refers to this tricephalos as a Beelzebub (This is a term usually thought of as an alternate name for the devil, usually associated with the title, Lord of the Flies) without any justification and in this context, the use of such a highly charged term is prejudicial to its understanding. As usual from an Englishman, Hayman equates the English reformation as being a British phenomenom, when the Scottish and Irish experience was dramatically different and bore different results.

The images are stunning and this is the one redeeming feature of this book. Buy it if you want to see some of the many 'green men' in Britain, but do not purchase it if you want to learn about the development of the foliate head in secular society, in the larger UK, or indeed in Europe.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything a Green Man book ought to be (but seldom is...), 17 Jun 2010
This review is from: The Green Man (Shire Library) (Paperback)
In a field dominated by books representing the wholly unfounded pagan Green Man hypothesis, how welcome Richard Hayman's book will be to those weary to see the facts of the case given the authoritative representation only recently seen in Mercia McDermott's 'Explore Green Men' (Heart of Albion, 2002). That the Green Man has been mistaken by successive generations of folklorists tells us a good deal more about the nature of folklore than it does about the so-called Green Man, whose assured place in popular consciousness as an "...archetype of our oneness with the earth..." stands in stark contrast with the actual nature, function and origin of these remarkable carvings.

Mr Hayman's text is brief, clear and to the point; an exercise in concision - as the pamphlet format of The Shire Library series demands. Minor gripes are few, such as mislabelling of one of Mr Eatough's masterpieces in the parish church at Whalley (which is, impressively, on the contents page) and one might ponder why F & G Doel's 'The Green Man in Britain' is included in the further reading section, dealing as it does with wholly erroneous orthodoxy which claims the subject as a non-Christian folkloric / pagan archetype - a notion which is, most assuredly, poppycock.

Unlike that volume, the photography here is stunning throughout, though the inclusion of a modern antlered (!) leaf-mask fashioned after the famous corbel in Bamberg Cathedral is a waste of essential space - much less the over generous caption concerning how "...meanings change over time". There is nothing so restrictively pedantic as neo-paganism, in which ideas serve as deeply entrenched absolutes without any foundation whatsoever. So, not so much a case of meanings changing over time, but an entirely post-modern invention laying claim to the Green Man as being Anciently Pagan, but only because it was first so-called in academic circles as recently as the 1930s. Whilst the pagan Green Man notion filtered through into more popular works over the next thirty years or so, though one would be hard pushed to find a Green Man in any sort of Pagan context at all prior to 1970.

The relationship between Folklore and Paganism is a symbiotic one, founded on the Frazerian notion that seasonal ceremony and custom must be survivals of pre-Christian ceremony unwittingly perpetuated by an ill-educated peasantry who had no understanding of the true significance of their seasonal usage. If one gets rid of such condescending inhumane paternalism (as one must) and applies a more considered historical & ethnological methodology to the subject, there is revealed a vibrant human necessity far removed from the insubstantial rhetoric of neo-paganism.

It is this human necessity that Mr Hayman demonstrates in the present work, accounting for a fascinating aspect of medieval religious sculpture which has for too long been considered anomalous in its natural habitat. Indeed, I look forward to seeing this charming little volume in the gift shops and bookstalls of medieval churches and cathedrals throughout the UK whose custodians have been only too keen to promote their Green Men as pagan, rather than what they truly are - as integral an aspect of the culture and theology of medieval Christianity as they are of the fabric of the buildings themselves.
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The Green Man (Shire Library)
The Green Man (Shire Library) by Richard Hayman (Paperback - 10 Jun 2010)
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