Feared and revered, the wolf has been admired as a powerful hunter and symbol of the wild and reviled for its danger to humans and livestock. Garry Marvin reveals in Wolf how the ways in which wolves are imagined has had far-reaching implications for how actual wolves are treated by humans.
Indigenous hunting societies originally respected the wolf as a fellow hunter, but with the domestication of animals the wolf became regarded as an enemy due to its attacks on livestock. Wolves, as a result, developed a reputation as creatures of evil. In children’s literature, they were depicted as the intruder from the wild who preys on the innocent. And in popular culture, the wolf became the creature that evil humans can transform into—the dreaded werewolf. Fear of this enigmatic creature, Marvin shows, led to an attempt to eradicate it as a species. However, with the development of scientific understanding of wolves and their place in ecological systems and the growth of popular environmentalism, the wolf has been rethought and reimagined. The wolf now has a legion of new supporters who regard it as a charismatic creature of the newly valued wild and wilderness.
Marvin investigates the latest scientific understanding of the wolf, as well as its place in literature, history, and folklore, offering insights into our changing attitudes towards wolves.