Hans Biedermann (1930-1990) was born in Vienna, where he studied natural sciences and philosophy. Biedermann was a professor at the University of Graz in Austria. He was the author of Dictionary of Symbolism: Cultural Icons and the Meanings Behind Them, which Library Journal noted as being "valuable for its elucidation of both the esoteric and commonplace." James Hulbert is a translator of German to English texts. His specialties include linguistics, philosophy, and social science. He earned a PhD in comparative literature from Yale University. He has published translations including Hans Biedermann's Dictionary of Symbolism, Wolfgang Lindig's Navajo: Tradition and Change in the Southwest, and Jacques Derrida's Parages.
This reference work defines symbols not only as visual icons (including shapes, color, and geometric designs) but also as biblical, classical, and mythological figures; botanics; minerals; and animals (real and mythical) as they relate to literature, dreams, art, and so forth. The choice of the over 2000 cross-referenced terms included here was necessarily subjective, for almost anything in the universe can be construed as having an emblematic meaning. Prehistorical to modern periods are covered and, although there is a Western emphasis, the author attempts to place symbols in appropriate cultural contexts. This work, which consolidates much arcane information, is valuable for its elucidation of both the esoteric and commonplace. Generally recommended, although there is no need to duplicate if a collection has sufficient works of this nature. A similar title, Carl G. Liungman's Dictionary of Symbols , was chosen as one of LJ 's best reference books of 1991.--Ed.-- Janice Braun, Oakland, Cal.