'We are meaning-seeking creatures. Dogs, as far as we know, do not agonise about the canine condition, worry about the plight of dogs in other parts of the world, or try to see their lives from a different perspective. But human beings fall easily into despair, and from the very beginning we invented stories that enabled us to place our lives in a ...
'We are meaning-seeking creatures. Dogs, as far as we know, do not agonise about the canine condition, worry about the plight of dogs in other parts of the world, or try to see their lives from a different perspective. But human beings fall easily into despair, and from the very beginning we invented stories that enabled us to place our lives in a larger setting, that revealed an underlying pattern, and gave us a sense that, against all the depressing and chaotic evidence to the contrary, life had meaning and value.' Karen Armstrong's concise, yet compelling investigation into the history of myth takes us from the Palaeolithic period and the mythology of the hunters right up to the 'Great Western Transformation' of the last 500 years. She shows us that the history of myth is the history of humanity, and our stories and beliefs, our curiosity and attempts to understand the world, link us to our ancestors and each other. Myths help us make sense of the universe, and of ourselves. Armstrong's characteristically insightful and eloquent book serves as a brilliant and thought-provoking introduction to myth in the broadest sense - and why we dismiss it only at our peril.
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Marvelous study of the development of religion, cradle to grave, and the stories that composed the various forms as they evolved. Excellent work, done tersely but with enough detail to explain the logic.
Publishers Weekly, 2005-09-12 This is an pedestrian study from the noted and popular religion scholar, in which Armstrong takes a historical approach to myth, tracing its evolution through a series of periods, from the Paleolithic to the postmyth Great Western Transformation. Each period developed myths reflecting its major concerns: images of hunting and the huntress dominated the myths of the Paleolithic, while the myths of Persephone and Demeter, Isis and Osiris developed in the agricultural Neolithic period. By the Axial Age (200 B.C. through A.D. 1500), myths became internalized, so that they no longer needed to be acted out. Reason, says Armstrong, largely supplanted myth in the Post-Axial Period, which she sees as a source of cultural and spiritual impoverishment; she even appears, simplistically, to attribute genocide to the loss of "the sense of sacredness" myth offers. Armstrong goes on to relate that in the 20th century, a number of writers, such as Eliot, Joyce, Mann and Rushdie, recovered the power of myth for contemporary culture. Although the book offers no new perspectives or information on the history of myth, it does provide a functional survey of mythology's history. But a more engaging choice would be Kenneth Davis's Don't Know Much About Mythology (Reviews, Sept. 5). (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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