In these five lectures originally prepared for the CBC, Claude Levi-Strauss, one of the world's greatest living thinkers, offers the insights of a lifetime spent interpreting myths and trying to discover their significance for human understanding.
In addresses written for a wide general audience, one of the twentieth century's most prominent thinkers, Claude Lévi-Strauss, here offers the insights of a lifetime on the crucial questions of human existence. Responding to questions as varied as 'Can there be meaning in chaos?', 'What can science learn from myth?' and 'What is structuralism?', Lévi-Strauss presents, in clear, precise language, essential guidance for those who want to learn more about the potential of the human mind.
J.D. Lewis-Williams, one of the leading South African archaeologists and ethnographers, excavates meaning from the complex mythological stories of the San-Bushmen to create a larger theory of how myth is used in culture. He extracts their “nuggets,” the far-reaching but often unspoken words and concepts of language and understanding that are opaque to outsiders, to establish a more nuanced theory of the role of these myths in the thought-world and social circumstances of the San. The book -draws from the unique 19th century Bleek/Lloyd archives, more recent ethnographic work, and San rock art;-includes well-known San stories such as The Broken String, Mantis Dreams, and Creation of the Eland;-extrapolates from our understanding of San mythology into a larger model of how people create meaning from myth.
Extending his distinctive analysis of Homeric epic to the Iliad, Bruce Louden, author of The "Odyssey": Structure, Narration, and Meaning, again presents new approaches to understanding the themes and story of the poem. In this thought-provoking study, he demonstrates how repeated narrative motifs argue for an expanded understanding of the structure of epic poetry. First identifying the "subgenres" of myth within the poem, he then reads these against related mythologies of the Near East, developing a context in which the poem can be more accurately interpreted. Louden begins by focusing on the ways in which the Iliad's three movements correspond with and comment on each other. He offers original interpretations of many episodes, notably in books 3 and 7, and makes new arguments about some well-known controversies (e.g., the duals in book 9), the Iliad's use of parody, the function of theomachy, and the prefiguring of Hektor as a sacrificial victim in books 3 and 6. The second part of the book compares fourteen subgenres of myth in the Iliad to contemporaneous Near Eastern traditions such as those of the Old Testament and of Ugaritic mythology. Louden concludes with an extended comparison of the Homeric Athena and Anat, a West Semitic goddess worshipped by the Phoenicians and Egyptians. Louden's innovative method yields striking new insights into the formation and early literary contexts of Greek epic poetry.
Jesus and the Trojan War looks at ways in which stories are presented and understood; and how story-tellers - and their listeners - may wittingly or unwittingly confuse fact with fiction. This book explores the parallels between four stories (the Trojan war, Moses, King Arthur, and Jesus), and the way their sources relate to their histories and contemporary relevance.
Ananda K. Coomaraswamy (1877-1947) was a pioneer in Indian art history and in the cultural confrontation of East and West. Finding a universal tradition in past cultures ranging from the Hellenic and Christian to the Indian, Islamic and Chinese, Coomaraswamy collated his ideas and symbols of ancient wisdom into essays. THE DOOR IN THE SKY is a collection of his writings on myth drawn from his METAPHYSICS and TRADITIONAL ART AND SYMBOLISM.