A Dictionary of Symbols, J.E. Cirlot

January 12, 2011 § 3 Comments

I finally own a copy of this! I first discovered it when I was writing an essay on the doppelganger motif, and borrowed the book from the library to do some research about duality and twin/mirror symbolism. That was years ago, but I’ve returned to the notes I took, when I started writing this blog – particularly for background for some of the entries in my “Encyclopedia” category. But now that I had started referencing it frequently I really had to have it, since there’s too much interesting stuff in it to miss out on. I must say that I think that Cirlot’s symbol dictionary is a real treasure for anyone interested in symbology. One thing I particularly like about the book, is that the interpretations and explanations aren’t just over-simplified standard statements about the particular “meaning” of a symbol, which often is the case with a lot of symbol dictionaries. In his texts, Cirlot draws from a lot of sources: religions, mythologies, astrology, alchemy, heraldry, art, psychology, etc. The interpretations of symbols most often differs historically and culturally, so I really appreciate the diverse references. Another thing I enjoy is the language, the way the texts are written and how the sentences have been crafted; the writing seems almost archaic (well, at least by my definition). Perhaps that has got something to do with the translation (from Spanish to English), in combination with the subject matter where, naturally, the archaic references are abundant.

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