The first illustrated global exploration of the cultural significance of twins.
The birth of twins is unusual. Throughout history they have been revered as gods and reviled as monsters; they have been adored as amusing music hall double acts and feared as duplicitous criminals; and they have been studied by anthropologists and scientists engaged in the nature vs nurture debate and genetic experiments. Their existence challenges the norm; they are seen by singletons as ‘other’ and regarded with an equal measure of wonder and distrust. Do twins have special powers? Does a twin birth present a good or bad omen? Are they telepathic? Should we fear the appearance of the ghostly doppelganger?
From the Aztec creation twins Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca to the divine opposites of Greek myth, Apollo and Artemis, and from criminal gang leaders the Kray twins to the disconcerting Grady twins in The Shining, this visually arresting and often disturbing book explores and interrogates twindom in all its facets in a wide range of cultures and media from ancient times to today. The visual presentation of twins, cultural attitudes to twins and scientific uses of twins are examined within three broad themes: twins of myth and legend and the instruction their stories provide; the anatomical, sociological and scientific studies of twins from Galton to genetic engineering; and twins as entertainers, sources of spectacle and community. Punctuating the cabinets of thematic imagery are nine thought-provoking essays that provide considered analysis and intriguing investigation of the myriad meanings, responses to and uses of twinkind.