Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Titles 2 (The bestiary)

Italian giallo titles really sound nice to my ears:
L’uccello dalle piume di cristallo
, Una lucertola con la pelle di Donna, Il gatto a nove code, Non si sevizia un paperino, Quattro mosche di velluto grigio, Il gatto dagli occhi di giada, La coda dello Scorpione, Sette scialli di seta gialla.

(The bird with the crystal plumage, A lizard in a woman’s skin, The cat o’nine tails, Don’t torture a duckling, Four flies on grey velvet, The Cat with the Jade Eyes, The case of the scorpion tail, Crimes of the black cat).

Cats, birds, scorpions, lizards, ducks, flies...

In the Middle-Age in Europe, the fear of the Devil being able to sneak into people's bodies led to the idea of the "beast within".

Being possessed, people would lose their judgement and spirituality and would act like animals - led by hunger, envy and rage.
Hence the Devil was often represented as an animal (cat, snake, goat...) or as a hybrid of human and animal.

This shades a new light on the highly symbolic and recurrent presence of animals within the vocabulary of giallo titles, which is a bestiary in itself.

Two interesting books study the relationship between the Devil and animals: "Une histoire du diable", by R. Muchembled (in French) and "The beast within: Animals in the Middle Ages", by J.E. Salisbury.
Read also a previous post about giallo titles.

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