Karen Armstrong's A Short History of Myth PDF

By Karen Armstrong

"Human beings have constantly been mythmakers.” So starts off best-selling author Karen Armstrong’s concise but compelling research into fable: what it really is, the way it has advanced, and why we nonetheless so desperately want it. She takes us from the Paleolithic interval and the myths of the hunters correct as much as the "Great Western Transformation” of the final years and the discrediting of fantasy by way of technology. The historical past of fantasy is the background of humanity, our tales and ideology, our interest and makes an attempt to appreciate the realm, which hyperlink us to our ancestors and every different. Heralding a tremendous sequence of retellings of overseas myths by way of authors from worldwide, Armstrong’s typically insightful and eloquent publication serves as a super and thought-provoking creation to fantasy within the broadest sense—and explains why if we brush aside it, we achieve this at our peril.

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Extra resources for A Short History of Myth

Example text

There is never a single, orthodox version of a myth. As our circumstances change, we need to tell our stories differently in order to bring out their timeless truth. In this short history of mythology, we shall see that every time men and women took a major step forward, they reviewed their mythology and made it speak to the new conditions. But we shall also see that human nature does not change much, and that many of these myths, devised in societies that could not be more different from our own, still address our most essential fears and desires.

In the Neanderthal graves, the corpse has sometimes been placed in a foetal position, as though for rebirth: the deceased had to take the next step himself. Correctly understood, mythology puts us in the correct spiritual or psychological posture for right action, in this world or the next. Finally, all mythology speaks of another plane that exists alongside our own world, and that in some sense supports it. Belief in this invisible but more powerful reality, sometimes called the world of the gods, is a basic theme of mythology.

Psychologists tell us that this type of isolation and deprivation not only brings about a regressive disorganisation of the personality, but that, if it is properly controlled, it can promote a constructive reorganisation of deeper forces within a person. At the end of his ordeal, the boy has learned that death is a new beginning. He returns to his people with a man’s body and soul. By facing up to the prospect of imminent death, and learning that it too is only a rite of passage to a new form of existence, he is ready to risk his life for his people by becoming a hunter or warrior.

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A Short History of Myth by Karen Armstrong

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