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Mythology Books : Book Discussion • Page 3 • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Mythology Books

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TwoStepCharlie
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Re: Mythology Books

Postby TwoStepCharlie » Sat Oct 08, 2016 10:46 am

I'd like to check out this site. But I'm getting a 'page not found' error when I follow the link!
Is it an older link? Sometimes this happens..
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Re: Mythology Books

Postby cynicalwanderer » Sat Oct 08, 2016 11:10 am

That's odd. It seems to be working for me. Maybe you have some sort of browser blocking?
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Re: Mythology Books

Postby TwoStepCharlie » Sat Oct 08, 2016 11:36 am

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Re: Mythology Books

Postby TwoStepCharlie » Sat Oct 08, 2016 11:57 am

Update: I reverted to an old version of |||||||| Explorer to view the location. It's good, but it reminds me now of a similar site which I am a little astonished that I am unable to find in my own bookmarks.

I swear there is some website for comparative folklore similar to this one from Pitt wherein a folklore 'taxonomy' is displayed. Somewhere, some folklore society-or-other has a periodic notation system which puts every myth variant into a hierarchical tree. So, if you want to find whether Sweden has a version of 'Jack and the Beanstalk' this database will tell you.

I looked at the New York Public Library site and found this collection of links; maybe its here somewhere. Erg!
https://www.nypl.org/weblinks/1279
Last edited by TwoStepCharlie on Sat Oct 08, 2016 12:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Mythology Books

Postby TwoStepCharlie » Sat Oct 08, 2016 12:18 pm

Ah. Here is what I'm recalling. I knew it had some wonky name.
The Aarne-Thompson Folklore Classification System!
http://www.mftd.org/index.php?action=atu

...it may be (in fact) exactly what appears on the Pitt link. I haven't scrutinized them together.

Anyway, whew! If I hadn't figured that mystery out, it would have ruined my Saturday.

p.s. you can find my own life-story listed there under tier 1200-1349. ("Stories about a Fool")
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Re: Mythology Books

Postby TwoStepCharlie » Sat Oct 08, 2016 1:16 pm

Discovered another interesting link browsing my old bookmarks.
Although what I mentioned about Plato's attitude towards myth still stands, there is actually a myth in 'The Republic'. He wasn't above using a myth if he had to, it was just a matter of using the best tool to reach a myth-giddy audience. And there were also legal concerns on his mind--he wasn't keen on having to down some hemlock. Whatever the reason, this is called writing exoterically (rather than esoterically).

Anyway it is the Myth of Er.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myth_of_Er
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Re: Mythology Books

Postby cynicalwanderer » Sun Oct 09, 2016 2:58 am

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Re: Mythology Books

Postby AJW009 » Sun Oct 09, 2016 11:38 am

Hi guys, thanks for the help, I'm still here, but I'm quite busy right now, so I can't have a proper look at your recommendations, but a quick look over them tells me it's all very interesting! Thank you so much!! If you have anymore recommendations then I'd love to hear them, and of course I recommend the books I've read, as well as a historical, not mythological, but fantastic book called "A Brief History of The Samurai: A New History of the Warrior Elite" by Jonathan Clements. I'm pretty sure this is from the same publishing house as the brief history of Greek Myth, which makes sense, because they are both world class!
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Re: Mythology Books

Postby AJW009 » Mon Oct 10, 2016 12:36 pm

Charlie, thank you so much for the detail of your posts, I can only thank you by responding in kind!

I haven't got the classics because to be honest, nobody has ever told me what the classics are, Mythology, like most of my interests, are shared by nobody in my family, so I've got no one to teach me. The first two you mentioned sound really interesting, "Bullfinch's Mythology" and the book on Greek Myths by Edith Hamilton in particular sounds brilliant, especially as my knowledge of Greek Myths is very strong, so a deeper read suits me in that case. On Bullfinch, does he cover other Mythologies besides the four you mention? If not, I might choose Frazier, which sounds INCREDIBLE, especially if it has a bibliography, that would be awesome, because I could then bring it here for opinions. Bullfinch might be something to look at further down the road when I have the money to pick up both!

I'm excited to hear your recommendations on Japanese Myth, I think it's a brilliant Mythology, maybe my second favourite after Greek (that was my first!), and I can't wait to include it in my books!! I understand however that my few wants are very specific in that regards, and people might not be able to help. :(

On Egyptian Mythology, I of course have heard of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, but I admit I didn't know there were actual books you can buy on it. Is there any with an explanation to go along with it?? Also, as there's so many depictions on death in Ancient Egypt, is there a book that collects these and discusses them? What's Ancient Evenings about? I'm well aware of the learning power novels can give, as that's where my knowledge of the Greek Gods became so good, by reading a novel for kids where the Greek Gods were alive and well in the modern day. A book more about the Gods would also be very interesting and helpful too though.

I can't tell you how happy I was to hear you say my interest in Mesopotamian Mythology was a credit to me! It properly made my day! Thanks!! What I'm looking for from Mesopotamian Mythology is more information on the Gods. The book I've got is, as I said previously, just a translation of some of the Myths into English, written as it was. I've got the Iliad and the Odyssey, which is the same, but I know all the references to the Gods, all the references to the Myths, I didn't get lost unless I was up too late reading it and fell asleep from exhaustion!! The only God I really know is Marduk, and that's only "of" really. Is that clearer, or do you need more information? Just let me know if it's not. :)

I'll tell you what might also help: a book of comparative mythology that only focuses on the myths of the Fertile Crescent, as I'm pretty sure the Gods are all very similar, just under different names, kind of like Zeus and Jupiter.

I've come across the name Joseph Campbell, but it's true, I've not read any of his books-again, nobody to tell me these things!-although if somebody brings something like mysticism or "this will be solved by God!" I am liable to get worked up. I stopped listening to a writing podcast because so much of the answers on how to solve things were overly religious for my tastes. I want to make clear though, I don't stop anybody from believing whatever they want, we all need something to give us strength, and that can absolutely be religion, it just isn't for me, especially when it's posited as an answer to a problem I have! Anyway back on track, with that in mind, could you suggest a starting point on Campbell? Something that serves as a good taster to his style and beliefs, but could still inform? A comic's new issue 1, done specifically to grab new readers type of thing?

I volunteer in a library once a week, and I've seen Robert Graves' name a number of times, and so they're quite accessible. Any by him would be a welcome recommendation in this area-I read very quickly, especially novels!!

Again, Sir James George Frazier sounds fantastic, it really sounds like a brilliant first look-and then more-into most mythologies, which interest me even if they're not useful to my books! I'm also a very good researcher, so I'm more than capable of shifting through his information and drawing my own conclusions. Does he have any other worthwhile books??

"The Greeks and the Irrational" sounds like a really, really helpful book, and I'll try and get this soon. If it's good and helpful, we could use it as the basis for similar books for other mythologies I listed.

I've just realised I I completely missed the Norse bit. The Prose and Poetic Edda are on my list of books to buy, but I'm trying to find the right copy, I'd like one with explanations and such as well as just a straight translation, like my Mesopotamian book.

I hope all this gives you an even better idea of what I'm looking for, and if not, feel free to simply ask me! I'll be happy to provide anymore information!
Hi guys, you're welcome to call me AJW! That's my initials, instead of using the name of one of my main characters!!

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Re: Mythology Books

Postby TwoStepCharlie » Mon Oct 10, 2016 2:34 pm

:) Glad to help orient your expedition.

Piecemeal replies:

For Joseph Campbell, you want 'Hero with a Thousand Faces'. A lot of writers turn to this tome, when they are writing their fantasy stories because it's very supportive of the 'hero's journey' type saga. No it is not overly-religious; Campbell is a polytheist perhaps; (possible incorrect term here, but what I mean is that he believes all religions are ultimately one religion). He himself, prefers the Indian Upanishads for his own personal spirituality. You can find out more not just by reading his books; there's a lengthy PBS personal interview series with him conducted by Bill Moyers. Might be revelatory for you. Both men are wonderful conversationalists.

Bulfinch: yes, he covers several other mythologies as well as Greek. I can't recall which ones other than Norse. You can easily deduce this for yourself by examining the TOC for his famous compendium.

Another author comes to mind: the Frenchman Perault. He wrote the original 'Cinderalla' and whatnot.

If you're interested in fables (on their own, not so much about 'Gods') I can also recommend Herman Hesse's book of fables; Aesop of course; the Grimm Brothers; and I myself am a particular fan of the Russkie Krylov. I've had 'Krylov's Fables' on my shelf for ages. Very handsome book. These are all classics of world folklore. I touch on them merely in passing, here.

'Egyptian Book of the Dead': Yes, I'm pretty sure it comes with commentary. Same publisher as 'Tibetan Book of the Dead' I believe (a work which I greatly admire). Shambalah Books, Ltd.

Still ruminating on Japanese myth. At the moment, I can't really name anything yet which you couldn't figure out for yourself. Be mindful only that the shinto religion is based around ancestor-worship and they are also a nation which nominates its emperor as 'God-Emperor'. You may not find many 'Gods' per se; I can't recall. There's things like 'Divine Wind'; they also venerate things like horses and chrysanthemums; or anything associated with the Emperor, for that matter. I know there are Japanese ghost stories and numerous vernacular parables like 'snow woman'. But--I've read a fair amount of Japanese literature--and simply don't recall 'Gods' being very prominent. Oh well. Stand by for updates if I find something more solid.

Frazier: I doubt his bibliography is very strong; in any case whatever titles he cites would likely be difficult to find due to the time in which he wrote. But the index to his encyclopaedia is very stout indeed. He kept publishing updates and addendums to his masterpiece, after the first release.

I may be mistaken but I seem to recall that Norman Mailer's 'Ancient Evenings' won the Pulitzer. Anyway it is very rich in texture; Mailer's a good writer after all. But I think what Mailer did was place his own interpretation on what he found and his slant was that the Egyptians were all about 'anus-magic' (for lack of a better term). It's a very scatological book.

Robert Graves: you only need to read his non-fiction exploration of myth, the one I already mentioned, 'White Goddess'. Take it with a grain of salt of course; just read it for background.

It strikes me that you may also enjoy Pierre Louys' 'Aphrodite' which is set in Alexandria of the Ptolemys(?). For a well-written neo-classic fantasy of Hellenistic life. This novel was the scandal of its day; banned for years. Racy reading, for sure; but decent hist-fic all the same.

More authentically: 'Callirhoe', 'Daphnis and Chloe', & 'Letters of Chion' are very early Greek prose adventure novels and are all found in one volume from Penguin.

For random browsing through a wild-and-woolly trove of not-very-accurate early Mediterranean culture, you would want the historian Herotodus. He was one of those types of historians like Burton who simply gathered everything he could find and stuck it into a volume.

Comparative studies of Fertile Crescent? I will have to examine my bookshelf when next I am at home. Much attention is always given to Assyria of course; Sumeria and Chaldea too, but to a lesser degree. Also the lost settlement called 'Ur' which was rediscovered in the early 1900s (?) is a locus for academia all its own. One of the oldest known sites in that part of the world. But like I said, if you go back far enough none of the gods are named. Oh--there's Mithraism & Zoroastrianism--don't forget those.

Eh! Enough wool-gathering for now. Catch ya later....
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