Eric Csapo, Theories of Mythology. Blackwell, Oxford, , pp. xiii + , ISBN Eric Csapo, Theories of Mythology. Blackwell, Oxford, , pp. xiii + PDF | On Aug 20, , Carole M Cusack and others published Eric Csapo, Theories of Mythology. Blackwell, Oxford, , pp. xiii + , ISBN Eric Csapo. Eric Csapo. Theories of Mythology. Ancient Cultures. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, Pp. xiii, $ (hb.). ISBN ; $ (pb.).
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In a very clear and engaging style, and one that is almost completely jargon-free, Csapo clearly sets out the strengths and weaknesses ymthology the major modern schools of mythological interpretation and their relationships with one another, providing a readable and accessible introduction with much to offer both students and scholars of myth.
Project MUSE – Theories of Mythology (review)
Despite the ease with which “myth” is used, it is not an easy concept to define. There is no satisfactory “one size fits all” definition, and myth textbooks in particular often simply resort to the customary definition of “traditional tale.
Fsapo attempts to solve this problem with a new definition, and his definition has much merit. For Csapo, myth is “socially important narrative [that] is told in such a way as to allow the entire social collective to share a sense of this importance” 9with a sliding scale of “importance” allowing myth’s cousins, “legend” and “folktale,” to fit easily into this [End Page 65] definition.
Theories of Mythology / Edition 1
His definition has the advantage of accommodating all stories usually identified as “myth,” accounting for the existence of variants of a myth the more important the myth, the more often it is retold; the more retellings, the more variantsand, most significantly, recognizing the crucial role myth plays in a society myth is a “function of social ideology” 9 ; it expresses a culture’s fears, desires, morals, and worldview, and as such, is more than simply an amusing story.
Csapo’s aim is to provide an introduction to the major modern schools of mythic interpretation, rather than to all of the theorists associated with each school, and his coverage is necessarily selective. Chapter 3 examines the contribution of psychological studies of the unconscious to the interpretation of myth, focusing on Freud.
The approaches of social anthropology are explained in chapter 4, which covers Emile Durkheim, Bronislaw Malinowski, Jane Harrison, and Walter Burkert. In all chapters, Csapo first clearly sets out the theory in question, uses it to explicate a myth, and discusses the school’s successes and shortcomings.
His coverage is more than just the theory, however, as it applies to the interpretation of myth. Conscious of his nonspecialist audience, he consistently and clearly provides all necessary background.
For example, chapter 2 provides a good general overview mytholofy psychoanalysis for the nonspecialist, while chapter 5 contains a clear and readable, and even jargon-free, introduction to Saussurean linguistics.
While Csapo’s study is aimed at a general audience it is part of Blackwell’s “Ancient Culture” series which surveys key themes from antiquityit also offers much to a specialized audience. Although the book contains more theory than an introductory myth class needs or wantsit would make a good text for advanced classes in either classical or comparative mythology.
It is also an excellent resource for anyone interested in the academic study of myth. Erlc you would like to authenticate using a different subscribed institution that supports Shibboleth authentication or have your own login and password to Project MUSE, click ‘Authenticate’. View freely available titles: Book titles OR Journal titles.
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