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L i t t l e R e v i e w s 363 lical love poem, the Song of Songs, were among the most influential texts of the Middle Ages, is characterized as “cold” and “polemical,” a hater of beauty. Some of the material and many of the illustrations are connected only loosely to relic cult, if at all. It is hard to tell what audience is intended: the book is too dismissive of many aspects of Christianity to be attractive to the religious, too derivative to be acceptable to scholars, and too detailed to be an accessible popular read. At a time when it is increasingly difficult for authors to find outlets for serious scholarship or for big and genuinely new ideas, I find it puzzling that an academic press would spend precious resources on such an unnecessary book. Relics are a somewhat trendy topic at the moment, in part because of the gorgeous exhibit, “Treasures of Heaven,” that opened at the British Museum in late June 2011, after traveling to Cleveland and Baltimore. Serious and imaginative scholars such as Julia Smith, Cynthia Hahn, and Holger Klein are all at work on major studies of the phenomenon of saint and relic veneration. It is a shame that Yale University Press did not wait to publish on this topic until a first-­ rate book came along. —Caroline Walker Bynum doi 10.1215/0961754X-1545049 Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, The Hidden Life of Deer: Lessons from the Natural World (New York: HarperCollins, 2009), 239 pp. When a deer stares at an object, other deer nearby soon stare too, alert to danger. Unlike in warm weather, in winter deer do not eat much corn or hay—a difference depending on the bacteria in their gut? Some groups are more humble than others, watching the others feed but not feeding themselves; such animals may later die from starvation or cold. Deer browse only a little from each plant before it can put out a bad-­ tasting toxin to counter their attack. (The chemical formulae of hemoglobin and chlorophyll are almost identical.) This wonderful book about deer living near the author’s rural home in New Hampshire contains no statistics, no charts, no academic paraphernalia, just careful observations of this kind. Academic researchers should pay heed and not condescend. While it is true that Thomas cannot tell the individual deer apart because she has not tagged or collared them, the use of tags and collars can negatively affect the behavior of individual animals, sometimes even causing their death, and thus can undermine the results of scientific research. —Anne Innis Dagg doi 10.1215/0961754X-1545058 ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4578
Print ISSN
0961-754X
Pages
p. 363
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-19
Open Access
N
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