The book of eels : our enduring fascination with the most mysterious creature in the natural world / Patrik Svensson ; translated from the Swedish by Agnes Broomé.

Svensson, Patrik, 1972- [Browse]
Uniform title
First edition.
  • New York, NY : Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2020]
  • ©2020
241 pages ; 22 cm.


Eels [Browse]
Library of Congress genre(s)
Biographies [Browse]
Summary note
"Part H Is for Hawk, part The Soul of an Octopus, The Book of Eels is both a meditation on the world's most elusive fish--the eel--and a reflection on the human condition. Remarkably little is known about the European eel, Anguilla anguilla. So little, in fact, that scientists and philosophers have, for centuries, been obsessed with what has become known as the "eel question": Where do eels come from? What are they? Are they fish or some other kind of creature altogether? Even today, in an age of advanced science, no one has ever seen eels mating or giving birth, and we still don't understand what drives them, after living for decades in freshwater, to swim great distances back to the ocean at the end of their lives. They remain a mystery. Drawing on a breadth of research about eels in literature, history, and modern marine biology, as well as his own experience fishing for eels with his father, Patrik Svensson crafts a mesmerizing portrait of an unusual, utterly misunderstood, and completely captivating animal. In The Book of Eels, we meet renowned historical thinkers, from Aristotle to Sigmund Freud to Rachel Carson, for whom the eel was a singular obsession. And we meet the scientists who spearheaded the search for the eel's point of origin, including Danish marine biologist Johannes Schmidt, who led research efforts in the early twentieth century, catching thousands upon thousands of eels, in the hopes of proving their birthing grounds in the Sargasso Sea. Blending memoir and nature writing at its best, Svensson's journey to understand the eel becomes an exploration of the human condition that delves into overarching issues about our roots and destiny, both as humans and as animals, and, ultimately, how to handle the biggest question of all: death. The result is a gripping and slippery narrative that will surprise and enchant."-- Provided by publisher.
"Originally published as Ålevangeliet in Sweden in 2019 by Albert Bonniers Fölag"--Title page verso.
Bibliographic references
Includes bibliographical references (pages 237-241).
The eel -- By the stream -- Aristotle and the eel born of mud -- Looking into the eyes of an eel -- Sigmund Freud and the eels of Trieste -- Illegal fishing -- The Dane who found the eel's breeding ground -- Swimming against the current -- The people who fish for eel -- Outwitting the eel -- The uncanny eel -- To kill an animal -- Under the sea -- Setting an eel trap -- The long journey home -- Becoming a fool -- The eel on the brink of extinction -- In the Sargasso Sea.
  • 0062968815 ((hardcover))
  • 9780062968814 ((hardcover))
  • 9780062968821 ((trade paperback))
  • 0062968823 ((trade paperback))
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