Encyclopedia of Taboos
by Lynn Holden
What are the origins of table manners? What are the politics of cannibalism? Why is the left hand thought to be sinister? These apparently unrelated questions all hinge on the fundamental notion of taboo. Far from being peripheral leftovers from distant times and places, taboos are a crucial part of any society, determing how people must and must not behave. Yet the topic has rarely been discussed in any comprehensive way in recent years,as though the word itself has become taboo in our efforts to dispel the myth of the irrationality of supposedly "primitive" cultures. This reference book is a mine of unusual information, including a comprehensive analysis of individual taboos from the ancient world to the present day, covering both well- and lesser-known examples.