It has been fifteen years since Kenneth C. Davis first dazzled audiences with his instant classic Don't Know Much About® History, vividly bringing the past to life and proving that Americans don't hate history, they just hate the dull, textbook version they were fed in school. With humor, wit, and a knack for storytelling, Davis has been bringing readers of all ages up to speed on history, geography, and science ever since. Now, in the classic traditions of Edith Hamilton and Joseph Campbell, he turns his talents to the world of myth.
Where do we come from? Why do stars shine and the seasons change? What is evil? Since the beginning of time, people have answered such questions by crafting imaginative stories that have served as religion, science, philosophy, and popular literature. In his irreverent and popular question-and-answer style, Davis introduces and explains the great myths of the world, as well as the works of literature that have made them famous. In a single volume, he tackles Mesopotamia's Gilgamesh, the first hero in world mythology; Achilles and the Trojan War; Stonehenge and the Druids; Thor, the Nordic god of thunder; Chinese oracle bones; the use of peyote in ancient Native American rites; and the dramatic life and times of the man who would be Buddha.
Ever familiar and instructive, Davis shows why the ancient tales of gods and heroes -- from Mount Olympus to Machu Picchu, from ancient Rome to the icy land of the Norse -- continue to speak to us today, in our movies, art, language, and music. For mythology novices and buffs alike, and for anyone who loves a good story, Don't Know Much About® Mythology is a lively and insightful look into the greatest stories ever told.
They have either retold the old, familiar myths of the past so that they carry fresh messages relevant to a contemporary audience or created their own, new myths as modern vehicles of traditional truths. Many writers have combined the two techniques.
Such is the transforming artistry which the eighteen essays in Re-Embroidering the Robe examine: the remaking or new-minting of myth, in literature from 1850 to the present day, so that what it embodies and expresses speaks powerfully to the modern reader. In widely differing ways, therefore, all of the texts analysed here compel attention.
Nicholls introduces Anglophone readers to Blumenberg’s biography and to his philosophical contexts. He elucidates Blumenberg’s theory of myth by relating it to three important developments in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century German philosophy (hermeneutics, phenomenology and philosophical anthropology), while also comparing Blumenberg’s ideas with those of other prominent theorists of myth such as Vico, Hume, Schelling, Max Müller, Frazer, Sorel, Freud, Cassirer, Heidegger, Horkheimer and Adorno. According to Nicholls, Blumenberg’s theory of myth can only be understood in relation to the ‘human sciences,’ since it emerges from a speculative hypothesis concerning the emergence of the earliest human beings. For Blumenberg, myth was originally a cultural adaptation that constituted the human attempt to deal with anxieties concerning the threatening forces of nature by anthropomorphizing those forces into mythic images.
In the final two chapters, Blumenberg’s theory of myth is placed within the post-war political context of West Germany. Through a consideration of Blumenberg’s exchanges with Carl Schmitt, as well as by analysing unpublished correspondence and parts of the original Work of Myth manuscript that Blumenberg held back from publication, Nicholls shows that Blumenberg’s theory of myth also amounted to a reckoning with the legacy of National Socialism.
The essays in this book, written by academics, writers and artists from various fields ranging from La Fontaine’s fables to nanotechnology and modern art, all point out the ways in which imagination works its way into all the fields of knowledge. At both ends of the spectrum, the hybrid nature of the chimera emerges as a pivotal symbol of both man’s predation instinct and a powerful symbol of his fear of extinction.
This interdisciplinary book, weaving together visual representation, literature, mysticism, and science, will appeal to historians of science, philosophy, art and religion. It will also be of interest to scholars in cultural studies and anthropology. Drawing on recent scientific research and artistic production, the volume will additionally interest a wider audience wishing to learn more about man’s obsession and fascination with the potent symbolism of dinosaurs and dragons and all hybrid forms generated by the human imagination and recent technology.