Our storybooks are full of lizards, but we usually call them something else – dragons, serpents, dinosaurs or monsters. These stories vastly increase their size, bestow wings upon them, make them exhale flame, and endow them with magical powers. Lizards stimulate the human imagination unlike most other animals, despite generally being small, soundless, and hidden from sight in burrows, treetops, and crevices. They can blend into a vast range of environments, from rocky coasts to deserts to rain forests. Their fluid motion can make us think of water, while their curvilinear form suggests vegetation. Their stillness suggests death, while their sudden arousal is like resurrection.
This delightful book gives lizards their due, demonstrating how the story of lizards is interwoven with the history of human imagination. Boria Sax considers the lizard as a sensual being – a symbol, a myth, a product of evolution and an aesthetic form. He describes the diversity of lizards and traces the representation of the reptile in cultures including those of pre-conquest Australia, the Quiché Maya, Mughal India, and central Africa. Illustrated throughout with beguiling images, Lizard is a unique and often surprising introduction to a popular but little-understood reptile.
Boria Sax teaches at Mercy College, New York, as well as at Sing Sing and Taconic prisons. He has published over fifteen books, which have won awards and been translated into many languages, including Crow (Reaktion, 2003) and Imaginary Animals (Reaktion, 2013).