A Bibliography of Spiders in Literature and the Visual Arts
The works included use to
spiders as major symbols and/or characters or in significant cameo appearances.
My awareness of how frequent and important these appearances are in the
literatures of cultures world-wide began as I researched an essay on Spider
Woman. Whether as Grandmother Spider, creator, or as Black Widow, destroyer,
this ancient being has inspired creative artists in all mediums in all the
habitats she has shared with humans. Understanding why that is so lends
insight to the place of humans in the web of nature, a web she is credited with
creating by peoples around the globe.
The spiders, honeybees, yellow jackets, and mud daubers: these insects
still speaka language that is older than humans. The buffalo, elk, wolf,
coyotethey still talk, too. It's we, the people, who have forgotten how
--Osage storyteller Archie Mason (www.jillmax.com/Spider.html)
Aftandilian, David. Spider Woman. In
. Summer 2008: 40.
The Summer of Black Widows
. New York: Hanging Loose Press, 1996.
Acknowledges spiders as the source of stories: In the corners of our old
houses/we still find those small bundles. (Joy Porter and Kenneth M.
The Cambridge Companion of Native American Literature
, p. 157)
Applegate, K. E.
Animorphs: The Android
. New York, London, Toronto, Auckland, Sydney: Scholastic, 1997.
Baring-Gould, Sabine. 1887
. Dublin, Ireland: Nonsuch, nd.
According to popular superstition, the red spider has the power to spin money
in the pocket of the person who secures its services. In this 1887 novel by
folklore anthologist Sabine Baring-Gould, Devinshire native Hillary Nanespian
squashes one of the red spiders, which has surprising consequences for his
brother-in-law Taverner Langford, and indeed their entire region.
Basho (1644-1694). Selected Haiku. In
Bestiary: An Anthology of Poems about Animals
. Ed. Stephen Mitchell. Berkley: Frog,1996. 16-20.
Bidgood, Ruth. Spiders.
. Seren Books, 1992.
what song, spider
in the autumnal wind. (18)
The Spider's House
. Black Sparrow House,
Very Busy Spider
. New York: Philomel, 1998.
Calendar of the Animal Messengers: Teachings from the Desert
. Tucson, AZ: Harbinger House, 1989.
Cooke, Rose Terry. Arachne.
. Director Henry Selick. Focus Features, 2009.
The frightening metamorphoses of the Other Mother late in this
animated film based on Neil Gaimon 2002 novel of the same
name, suggests the stereotype of the deadly Black Widow still haunts American society.
A Trip to the Stars
. Dial Press, 2000.
Diary of a Spider
. Ill. Harry Bliss. New York: HarperCollins, 2003.
deCamp, L. Sprague.
Conan and the Spider God
Dickinson, Emily. #513 (#606 in Johnson): The Spider holds a Silver Ball (1863). In The Poems of Emily Dickinson
. Ed. R. W.
MA and London: Cambridge University Press, 1998. 232.
________. #1138: A Spider sewed at Night. In
Skies in Blossom: The Nature Poetry of Emily Dickinson.
Ed. Jonathan Cott. Ill. Mary Frank. New York, London,
Toronto, Sidney, Auckland: 1995. 58.
obviously saw something of her own poetic activity
in the movement of the spider, as in the famous poem which starts ['A Spider
sewed at night'
.And in other poems, for example, 'The
--dancing softly to himself/ His Coil of Pearlunwinds.' She
elsewhere calls the spider an artist of 'surpassing merit' whose tapestries,
wrought in an hour, are 'Continents of Light'; but also very ephemera, 'He
plies from Nought to Nought /In insubstantial Trade'. (Tanner 26).
________. #1373: The Spider as an Artist (1875). In Franklin. 527.
The Spider as an Artist
Has never been employed
Though his surpassing Merit
Is freely certified
By every Broom and Bridget
Throughout a Christian Land
Neglected Son of Genius
I take thee by the Hand (257)
Crime and Punishment
. Trans. David Magarshak. New York: Greenwich House, 1982.
Spiders may be our most potent symbol of primeval life, yet they are
associated not with expansive landscapes but with desplate crannies. This
paradox is the basis of a vision by the perverse Svidrigaylov in
Crime and Punishment
(first published in 1865-66). Svidrigaylov picture eternity not as vast but
as 'a little room, something like a village bath-house, grimy, and spiders in
' (305) (Sax 242).
Duncan, Lois. Ill. Shonto Begay.
The Magic of Spider Woman
. Singapore: Scholastic, 1996.
The Navajo legend of how a stubborn girl learns from Spider Woman how to
keep her life in balance by respecting its boundaries; explains
blanket weavers include a spirit pathway in their creations to this day (
Edwards, Jonathan. Of Insects.
Of all Insects no one is more wonderfull than the Spider especially with
Respect to their sagacity and admirable way of working.' Edwards was
particularly struck to see spiders apparently 'swimming in the air'
he describes how he watched and experimented to see how they managed to sustain
themselves in space. The secret
was the way they 'put out a web at their
tails' which was so light that the wind took it, and held up the spider at the
same time' (Tanner 25).
________. 1734. Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. In
The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards: A Reader
. Ed. Wilson H. Kimnach, Kenneth P. Minkena,
and Douglas A. Sweeney. New
Haven: Yale University Press,
As chthonic figures, spiders are constantly linked with the dead and the
realm beneath the earth
.Jonathan Edwards preached
that 'the God that
holds you over the pit of Hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome
insect, over a fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked' (57) (Sax
Frost, Robert. 1936. Design.
__________. 1912. In White. An early version of
. New York: HarperTrophy, 2002.
. New York: Bantam Books, 2008.
Gear, M. Michael and Kathleen O'Neill Gear.
People of the Wolf
. Dorrerty Tor, 2005.
In an era when the religious loyalties of the people seem to be shifting,
Badgertaill, who has a blue spider tattooed on his cheeks, learns
from Old Woman North that Spiderwoman waffles, unsure where her loyalties
lie (25, 40). In the newly renovated kiva Spider Woman now dances
in new plaster on the east wall, dressed in a bright yellow
dress and carrying a feather praying fan (51). Originally,
she led the Hero twins out into this world, casting her web
into the sky
..Then, as the people died, she would pull the souls of the
worthy up with strands of her web. They became Star People (63).
Spider Woman's constellation rises several hands before dawn (300).
She is angry because the First People don't look up to her the way
they used to and, now, 'only the strongest strands of silk tether the
.Spider Woman wants all of the flies in the web before those
who, like Badgertail, are loyal to her strike and regain her power (310).
The White Spider
. New York: McElderry Books, 2000.
Howitt, Mary. The Spider and the Fly. 1821:
Issa (1763-1827). Selected Haiku.
In Bestiary: An Anthology of Poems about Animals
. Ed. Stephen Mitchell. Berkley: Frog,
James, Henry. The Art of Fiction.
Don't worry, spiders,
I keep house
the spider receives perhaps its finest transformation:
Experience is never limited and it is never complete; it is an immense
sensibility, a kind of huge spider-web of the finest silken threads suspended
in the chamber of consciousness, and catching every air-borne particle in its
tissue. It is the very atmosphere of the mind; and when the mind is
it takes to itself the faintest hints of life, it convert the
very pulses of the air into revelations (Tanner 27).
Kimmel, Eric C.
Anansi and the Magic Stick.
_________. Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock.
Anansi and the Talking Moon
Anansi Goes Fishing
Anansi's Party Time
. Ill. Janet Stevens. New York: Holiday House, 2008.
Miss Spider's Tea Party
Miss Spider's Web of Friends
Le Guin, Ursula.
Buffalo Gals, Won't You Come Out Tonight
. San Francisco: Roe. 1990.
The Hamlet Chronicles: Seven Spiders Spinning
New York: HarperTrophy, 2005.
When seven deadly Siberian Snow Spiders from before the dawn of time, found
frozen in a glacier, invade a Vermont classroom, they find a surprising welcome
and become valued guests.
Lulu Atlantis and the Quest for the True Blue Love
New York: Schwartz & Wade, 2008.
Max, Jill, ed.
Spider Spins a Story: Fourteen Legends from Native America
. Northland, 1998.
Collaborators Kelly Bennett and Ronia Davidson, inspired by Navajo weaver and
storyteller Sarah Natan, draw together tales from, thereby exploring the
recurrence of the spider as a unifying thread in the literature of diverse
Native American cultures (a href="http://www.jillmax.com/Spider.htm">http://www.jillmax.com/Spider.htm).
Moffett, Thomas. Little Miss Moffett.
Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away.
Lord of the Spiders
Mullet, G. M.
Spider Woman Stories
. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1979.
Neruda, Pablo. Bestiary. In
Bestiary: An Anthology of Poems about
. Ed. Stephen Mitchell. Berkley: Frog, 1996. 195-199.
The spiders have always been slandered
The Snow Spider Trilogy
. Troll Communications, 1991.
in the idiotic pages
of exasperating simplifiers
who take the fly's point of view,
who describe them as devouring,
carnal, unfaithful, lascivious.
For me, that reputation
discredits just those who concocted it:
the spider is an engineer,
a divine maker of watches,
for one fly more or less
let the imbeciles detest them.
I want to have a talk with the spider,
I want her to weave me a star. (196-7)
Oliver, Mary. Swoon. From
, 1999. In
The Truro Bear and Other Adventures: Poems and Essays
. Boston: Beacon, 2008. 54-60.
Ortiz, Simon J. Toward Spider Springs. From
. 1992: 63.
Patrick D. Murphy explains that the poem commemorates stones of the walls
near Spider Springs [which are] not cemented together but balanced in a woven
pattern which illustrates a fundamental part of Spider Woman's
wisdom, wisdom that goes beyond the patterns of balance/weaving,
necessitating ongoing renewal or participation by the walls' human
Farther Afield in the Study of Nature-Oriented Literature
[Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press, 2000], 106).
Ovid. Book VI: The Transformation of Arachne into a Spider.
. Trans. Rolfe Humphries. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1955.
Ovid traced the origin of spiders to the story of Arachne, a young girl
so skilled at spinning and weaving that even the nymphs gazed on her with
wonder. She had boasted that her skill exceeded even that of the goddess
Athena. Upon hearing this, the goddess took on the shape of an old woman and
went to Arachne, warning her against arrogance. When Arachne refused to
retract her boast, Athena revealed herself and challenged Arachne to a contest
in weaving. Even then, Arachne was not intimidated
.On her loom, Athena
wove pictures of mortals who had dared to measure themselves against the
divinities and met their doom. On her loom, Arachne wove pictures showing the
follies of gods and goddesses, especially in their affairs with mortals.
became so furious that she began to beat Arachne until the young
girl ran away
and tried to hang herself. 'Live,' said Athena, 'but hang
forever,' and Arachne was changed into a spider suspended by a thread' (Book 4,
1-145) (Sax 237).
Robert the Bruce
Kiss of the Spider Woman
Wearing the Spider
. New Canaan, CT: Galavant Press, 2007.
Sedaris, David. April & Paris: Caught in the Web of Nature.
The New Yorker 24 March 2008: 38-41.
Silko, Leslie Marmon.
. New York: Viking, 1977.
(Tom De Falco, Ron Frenz, et al) Issue 17 Marvel Comics June, 2008.
Swift, Jonathan. The Battle of the Books. In
The Writings of Jonathan Swift
. Ed. Robert A. Greenberg and William B. Piper. New York: Norton, 1973: 373-396.
A Deepness in the Sky
. New York: Tor Books, 1998.
A Fire Upon the Deep
. New York: Tor Books, 1992.
Vinge's Spiders are the most lovable arachnids in American literature
since Charlotte (Curt Wohleber. Review in Science Fiction Book Reviews:
Warren, John Byrne Leicester, Lord de Tarley (1835-1905). The
Study of a Spider. In
. Selected and Edited by
John Hollander. New York,
Toronto: Everyman Library, 1994.
Wells, H. G.
The Valley of the Spiders
. (Arthur's Classic Novels:
White, E. B.
. Ill. Garth Williams. New York, Evanston, San Francisco,
London: Harper & Row, 1952.
White, Randy Wayne.
. New York: G. P. Putnam's, 2008.
Whitman, Walt. A Noiseless, Patient Spider. In
Selected and Edited by John
Hollander. New York and Toronto:
Everyman Library, 1994. 222-223.
We could scarcely hope to find a better image of the American Romantic
writer, which is almost to say the American writer, than this. Isolated and
secreting filament, filament, filament (think of Whitman's constantly renewed
stream of notations and enumerations) to explore, to relate to, and to fill
'the vacant, vaste surrounding'. America is the 'measureless oceans of space';
the web is the private creation of the writer, constructed with a view of
attaching himself somehow to reality, a world of his own making in which he can
live on his own terms, assimilating and transforming what the outside world
brings his way. (Tanner 26)
Spider World: A Quartet: Vol I: The Tower
. ;Charlottesville, VA: Hampton
Vol II: The Delta
. Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Books, 2001.
Vol. III: The Magician
. Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Books, 2001.
Vol. IV: Shadowland
. Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Books, 2003.
Review: Kris Lawson. RAINTAXi Winter 2003: www.raintaxi.com/online/3002winter/wilson.shtml
Journey to the West
The Chinese novel Journey to the West
tells how the monk Tripitaka
Tang was once captured by soider-woman
. He stopped at a mansion to ask
for a vegetarian meal and was greeted by four pleasant young women, but the
meal they offered turned out to be human flesh. When the monk tried to leave,
they tied him with strings spun out of their navels. Only rescue by his animal
companions prevented him from becoming their meal (Sax 240).
Allen, Paula Gunn.
Grandmothers of the Light: A Medicine Woman's Source Book
. Boston: Beacon, 1991.
The Sacred Hoop: Rediscovering the Feminine in American Indian Traditions
. Boston: Beacon, 1986.
Spider Woman's Granddaughters
. New York: Ballantine, 1989.
Amazing Arachnids: Neurophilosophy
Art: Spider Woman. In Goings On About Town.
The New Yorker;30 June 2008: 8.
Bilger, Burkhard. Spider Woman [Greta Binford].
The New Yorker;5 March 2007: 66-73.
Brown, Joseph Epps.
Animals of the Soul: Sacred Animals of the Oglala Sioux
. Rockport, MA and Shaftsbury, Dorset: Element,1992.
Spider Woman Walks This Land: Traditional Cultural Properties and the Navajo Nation
. Walnut Creek, CA, New York, London, and Oxford:
AltaMira Press, 2002.
A Treasury of African Folklore: The Oral Literature, Traditions, Myths, Legends, Epics, Tales, Recollections, Wisdom Sayings, and Humor of Africa
. New York: Marlowe, 1996.
Crompton, John. 1950.
The Snake; The Spider
. New York: Quality Paperback Book Club, 1987.
Curry, Andrew. The World's First Temple?
November 2008: 54-68.
Fabre, Jean Henri.
The Life of the Spider.
The Red Hourglass: Lives of the Predator
. New York: Delacourt, 1998.
Haupt, Lyanda Lynn.
Pilgrim on the great Bird Continent: The Importance of Everything and other lessons from Darwin's Lost Notebooks
. New York and Boston: Little, Brown, 2006.
Japanese Fairy Tales
. Mount Vernon, NY: Peter Pauper Press, 1936.
The Book of the Spider: From Arachnophobia to the Love of the Spider
. London: Hutchinson, 1994.
________. The Private Life of Spiders. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press,2007.
Trickster makes the World: Mischief, Myth, and Art
. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998.
Women as Mythmakers: Poetry and Visual Art by Twentieth-Century Women
. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984.
Voices of the First Day: Awakening the Aboriginal Dreamtime
. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 1991.
Lee, Nathan. Portrait of a Haunted Artist Who Befriended Giant Spiders.
The New York Times
25 June 2008 (movies.nytimes.com/2008/06/25/movies/25loui.html?ref=movies)
Oxford Companion to World Mythology
. Oxford University Press, 2005.
Lauck, Joanne Elizabeth.
The Voice of the Infinite in the Small: Revisioning the Insect-Human Connection
. Mill Spring, NC: Swan Raven. 1999; Boston:
Mullet, G. Martin.
Spider Woman Stories: Legends of the Hopi Indians
. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1979.
Niegmann, M. Re-visioning the Spider Woman Archetype in 'Kiss of the Spider Woman.'
Journal of Analytic Psychology
49, 3(June 2004): 397-412.
Latin American Fiction and the Narratives of the Perverse: Paper Dolls and Spider Women.
New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.
The emblematic figure of spider woman inspires his readings of
homosexuality, fetishism, sadism, masochism, transvestitism
in the works
of many of the greatest writers of the 50s, 60s, and 70s (Robert
. On the Trail of Spiderwoman: Petroglytphs, Pictographs, and Myths of the Southwest
. Santa Fe, NM: Ancient City Press, 1997.
Reichard, Gladys A
. Spider Woman: A Story of Navajo Weavers and Chanters
. New York: Macmillan, 1934.
Sax, Boria. Spider.
The Mythical Zoo: An Encyclodedia of Animals in World Myth, Legend, and Literature
. Santa Barbara, Denver, Oxford, England: ABC Clio,2001: 237-243.
Schwartz, Sanford. Daring and Disturbing.
The New York Review of Books
23 October 2008: 31-33.
Spiders and Man http://www.earthlife.net/chelicerata/s-man.html
Comicvine, the Comic Book Encyclodedia
Spider-Woman. Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spider_Woman)
Spinning Spider Stories (http://www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/405)
Spooner, David. Thoreau's Insect Science.
The Insect Populated Mind: How Insects have Influenced the Evolution of Consciousness.
London, Boulder, New York, Toronto, Oxford: Hamilton Books, 2005. 130-135.
Scenes of Nature, Signs of Men
. New York: Cambridge University Press,1987.
Teotihuacan Spider Woman
Topsell, Edward and Thomas Moffett.
The History of Four-Footed Beasts and Serpents and Insects
. 3 vols. New York: Da Capo, 1967 (facsimile of 1658
Vogel, Carol. Art. In The Week Ahead.
The New York Times
2008: Arts and Leisure, 4
Walker, Barbara G.
The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets
. San Francisco et al: Harper & Row, 1983.
Wiegmann, M. Re-visioning the Spider Woman Archetype in Kiss of
the Spider Woman.
Journal of Analytic Psychology
49, no. 3(June 2004): 397-412.
The Miracle of the Spider Book
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