Hyenas are almost universally regarded as nasty, scheming charlatans that skulk in the back alleyways of the animal kingdom. They have been scorned for centuries as little more than scavenging carrion-eaters, vandals, and thieves. Here to restore the Hyena’s reputation is Mikita Brottman, who offers an alternate view of these mistreated and misunderstood creatures and proves that they are complex, intelligent, and highly sociable animals.
Investigating representations of the hyena throughout history, Brottman divulges that the hyena, though shrouded in taboo, has been the source of talismanic objects since the ancient Greek and Roman empires. She discovers that many cultures use parts of the hyena—from excrement and blood to genitalia and hair—to make charms that both avert evil and promote fertility. Brottman also considers representations of hyenas in today’s popular fiction, including The Lion King and The Life of Pi,where they are often depicted as villains, cowardly henchmen, or clowns, while ignoring their more noble qualities. Rightly returning hyenas to their proper place in the animal pantheon, this richly illustrated book will be enjoyed by any animal lover with an interest in the unusual and offbeat.
About the Author
Mikita Brottman is a psychoanalyst, author, and cultural critic. She is professor in the Department of Humanistic Studies at the Maryland Institute College of Art.