Dodo: A Brief History
Dodo: A Brief History is the most comprehensive illustrated guide to this intriguing bird, its history, natural history, and its literary and cultural legacy.
The extinction of the dodo from the shores of Mauritius followed closely upon the arrival of Dutch and Portuguese sailors on the island in the sixteenth century. This sad tale is outlined in the first chapter which provides a brief history of the dodo. The following chapters investigate the dodo's natural history through the use of historical documents, illustrations, paintings, old drawings, and literary sources. Its behavior is examined in quotes from the sixteen written reports produced by travellers to the island, and the anatomy of the dodo is investigated from the bone records kept by anatomists and naturalists from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries.
The mythology surrounding the dodo has grown ever since it became extinct. Lewis Carroll's use of the dodo in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland elevated the bird to fantastical status and sparked a spate of dodo characters in newspapers, advertisements, and cartoons. In the fifth chapter, the author examines how man has incorporated the image of the dodo into literature and the arts, to become the powerful cultural icon that it is today.
The final chapters look more closely at two other dodo-like creatures: the Solitary from the island of Rodrigues and the legendary white dodo of the Réunion Island--which may have once existed or may simply be a figment of the imagination.
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