I’m not sure what stands out for you when you think of the late 1990s – DeLillo’s Underworld? The dot-com bubble? Titanic? – but for me it’s two things: working (somewhat reluctantly) in New Age publishing and going (not at all reluctantly) to raves. It isn’t a period I think about very much now, but when I received a copy of Carolyne Larrington’s new book about British folklore, The Land of the Green Man, with its mystical cover image, I experienced a very strong flashback. Despite appearances, though, this is no ‘woo-woo’, joss stick-smelling, cod-esoteric guide to channelling one’s inner nature spirit (such books do exist – I edited one), nor a flyer for an event promising tribal drumming and Goa trance DJs all night, secret location TBC. Instead, it is a fascinating, accessible and, dare I say it, rather sensible exploration of the place of folklore in the British Isles and the folklore of place.
Larrington teaches medieval English literature at St John’s College, Oxford;