Erling Sandmo
Sea Monsters in Maps and Literature 1491–1895

Gigantic sea snakes, multi-eyed ocean pigs or fish the size of elephants: Sailors of the past had to prepare for the worst when they travelled the seas. History professor Erling Sandmo has dived into the archives of the National Library and found a series of spectacular stories of encounters with sea monsters.

This delightful little book brings us images of a variety of monsters from old maps and books, together with Sandmo’s insightful, fascinating essays on their origin, meaning and eventual disappearance.

“The occasion for this little book is to gather a few monsters between these pages. That is what I have attempted to do here, all the while conscious of the paradoxical nature of the endeavour. Per definition, a monster necessarily transgresses boundaries and categories, disrupting systems and sowing anxiety within the established order, before vanishing into darkness the moment we try to pin it down and bind it within our definitions.

Nevertheless, that is my goal. I hereby present twenty monsters, or more precisely, sea monsters. My criteria for inclusion are twofold: first, they must at one time in history have been considered true monsters, and second, the source material must be available in the collections at the National Library of Norway.”

Erling Sandmo

Erling Sandmo

Erling Sandmo

Erling Sandmo (b. 1963) is professor of history at the University of Oslo, researcher at the national library, author and critic. He has written a number of books and articles on criminal violence, historical method and classical music, to name a few, and is an established music critic.

Foreign rights

Oslo Literary Agency
Even Råkil
Rights Director, Non-fiction
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Edited November 19, 2020 by Oslo Literary Agency