Tales of enchantment
Red hair may be a freak of nature, but Midas Dekkers cannot imagine a more beautiful outcome of a genetic mutation. He attributes powerful qualities to redheads, from beauty to self-awareness. Even at conception they are conscious of their hair colour: ‘When she is but a single cell, a redhead knows all she needs to know to make her skin white, her freckles numerous and her eyebrows as fine as a swirl of mist.’ Clearly the author cannot claim absolute objectivity, but his personal passion emerges as one of the strengths of his book, which combines a declaration of love with the fruits of a lifelong fascination.
The charms he writes about are often erotic in nature. One thing that makes a redheaded woman unique, Dekkers claims, is that you can actually watch her having an orgasm. The blood becomes visible through the pale skin, rises to the throat and pours out across the face. ‘Nothing in the world can match that,’ he writes. Yet Red is not merely a long gasp of admiration but an informative book that explores, for example, the origins of redheadedness and why it is always accompanied by milk-white skin and freckles.
Dekkers also looks at how redheads have figured in art and literature and how attitudes to them have changed over the centuries. His playful, engaging style is ideally suited to this combination of adulation and analysis, and he combines all manner of facts, causes and consequences in an irresistible narrative. The book is bound to give readers a fresh perspective on the redheaded members of our species.
Not everyone would accept Dekkers’ positive image of redheads. Throughout history, red has been synonymous with danger and sin. In the Middle Ages redheaded women were seen as witches to be burned at the stake and a similar reputation attaches to redheaded people in literature, with Charles Dickens’ villains Fagin and Uriah Heep among the best known examples. Even today, some doctors claim that redheads bleed more profusely, have a lower pain threshold and are more delicate than the rest of us.
In awe and astonishment, with a dash of irony, Dekkers sets out on a quest to unravel the mystery of redheadedness. The cause may be known, but the result is always a miracle.
- Full of fascinating and little-known facts from science, art and history.
- An ode to redheads, especially the women.