1.20.2008

Misters Muffet vs. Anna and the King




Thank you, Charley, for the recommendation of W.S.Bristowe's publications. Although I could only get my hands on a very slim volume, it was not remiss of kinky spider sex. There was also romance:
When Pisaura goes a-wooing he puts aside his own natural hunger, catches an insect, wraps it up in a parcel of silk, and hands it to his prospective bride as a wedding present!...Semaphore tactics would be useless for the males who have to court females that build webs. In these cases he signals his identity by means of distinctive jerks of the threads, a kind of Morse code. Many Linyphiid and Theridiid males set up distinctive vibrations along the threads by scraping a stiff spine or special tooth against a series of hard ridges, like a file, elsewhere on his body.


W.S.Bristowe was a well-travelled arachnologist, and visited Thailand. There he researched the story behind The King and I. He concludes that the real Anna Leonowens was not truthful in her accounts, which I feel ready to accept if only because I'm so charmed by his ADDENDUM to Spiders:
To the 1658 edition of Topsel's book was added somewhat unobtrusively Dr. T. Muffet's Theater of Insects. My quotations on p. 5 should have been attributed to Dr. Muffet and I now seek atonement by calling attention to Muffet's other claim to fame. I have suggested...that Patience, his daughter, was the Miss Muffet. The only correspondent to demur called my attention to an incident in Muffet's Diary describing a picnic in Epping Forest when he was forced to fly from some enraged wasps beside whose nest he had spread his lunch. The implication here would be that he himself was Miss Muffet and that the wasps were changed into a spider in order to help the Nursey Rhyme.




BLOG POST ADDENDUM: If you haven't heard, spiders can also travel to faraway countries. Look up ballooning spiders!

2 comments:

pele said...

if you come across this book for sale, please get it (for me)

Charley said...

Spiders aren't the only ones... I've lost track of the source for this, but I read somewhere that male dance flies (family Empididae) also present females with gifts; some species enclose the gift in frothy bubbles, while others wrap it in a web made from a secretion of glands in the front feet.