A Short History of Myth: Book summary and reviews of A Short History of Myth by Karen Armstrong

A Short History of Myth

By Karen Armstrong

A Short History of Myth
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  • Published in USA  Nov 2005,
    176 pages.

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Book Summary

This brilliant, readable synthesis of the history of mythology and the function it serves to humanity is the launch title of the groundbreaking publishing event, The Myths. "Human beings have always been mythmakers." So begins Karen Armstrong's concise yet compelling investigation into myth: what it is, how it has evolved, and why we still so desperately need it. She takes us from the Paleolithic period and the myths of the hunters right up to the "Great Western Transformation" of the last five hundred years and the discrediting of myth by science. The history of myth is the history of humanity, our stories and beliefs, our curiosity and attempts to understand the world, which link us to our ancestors and each other. Myths help us make sense of the universe. Heralding a major series of retellings of international myths by authors from around the world, Armstrong's characteristically insightful and eloquent book serves as a brilliant and thought-provoking introduction to myth in the broadest sense -- and explains why if we dismiss it, we do so at our peril.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

'Although the book offers no new perspectives or information on the history of myth, it does provide a functional survey of mythology's history.' - PW.

Comment: A Short History of Myth is the launch title in UK publisher Cannongate's new myth series featuring retellings of classic myths by modern writers - see The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood and Weight by Jeanette Winterson, also in this issue. It is not surprising that the reviewer from PW finds that this book offers 'no new perspectives or information' as its purpose is not to break new ground but rather to offer an overview of mythology as a whole in order to put the rest of the series into context.

The series, conceived by Cannongate publisher Jamie Byng, is being launched by 30 publishers worldwide this Fall. Byng (who incidentally is the brother of Georgia Byng, author of the Molly Moon books for children) estimates the series will be completed in 2038!

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Author Information

Karen Armstrong Author Biography

Karen Armstrong, author, scholar, and journalist, is among the world's foremost commentators on religious history and culture. Her books include the bestselling A History of God and The Battle for God, as well as Buddha and Islam: A Short History.

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