Cover image for Thematic guide to world mythology
Title:
Thematic guide to world mythology
Author:
Stookey, Lorena Laura.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, [2004]

©2004
Physical Description:
xii, 244 pages : illustrations ; 26 cm
Language:
English
Subject Term:
ISBN:
9780313315053
Format :
Book

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BL312 .S76 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

All around the world, myths address questions that humans have always posed about their origins, their environments, their ultimate destinies, and the meanings of their lives. This book examines 30 common motifs that thread their way through mythological tales across history and around the globe. The themes are presented in alphabetical order, moving from The Afterlife and Animals in Myth to The Underworld, World Tree, and Ymir Motif. Each thematic section defines and discusses a single recognizable motif, compares a number of different mythological traditions, and traces the repeated occurrences of one of these patterns through several different categories of narratives.

The discussion of The Afterlife, for example, examines the theme's earliest known occurrences in ancient Mesopotamia and compares them with those in Greek, Aztec, Norse, and other ancient cultures, as well as with contemporary views from Innuit and Polynesian cultures. A glossary provides concise definitions of recurring terms. A list of suggested readings on these topics will further aid students who desire to deepen their knowledge of world mythology.


Author Notes

LORENA STOOKEY is Assistant Professor in the English Department at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she teaches course in mythology, poetry, and literature. She is the author of Louise Erdrich: A Critical Companion (Greenwood 1999).


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Covering all the themes of multicultural mythologies in one volume would seem a daunting task, but Stookey (English, Univ. of Nevada, Reno) does make a valiant attempt. She tackles themes traditional to comparative mythology (e.g., the afterlife, creation, the deluge, the fall, and tricksters), as well as more esoteric topics (e.g., the world tree, sacred mountains, the earth-diver, messengers, and guardians). In a mere 244 pages, however, few of the subdivisions within each chapter can be given slightly more than a page, and most earn a mere paragraph or two. "Origins of Fire," for example, allots approximately half a page to Greek, Native American, Peruvian, Australian, and South American myths. Bottom Line While the volume achieves its goal of providing an overview of the themes of world mythology, it sacrifices academic depth to do so in so few pages. As a basic reference book, it is recommended to school and public libraries. Academic libraries and those with deeper mythology collections might be better served by more focused studies.--Katherine K. Koenig, Ellis Sch., Pittsburgh (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Covering all the themes of multicultural mythologies in one volume would seem a daunting task, but Stookey (English, Univ. of Nevada, Reno) does make a valiant attempt. She tackles themes traditional to comparative mythology (e.g., the afterlife, creation, the deluge, the fall, and tricksters), as well as more esoteric topics (e.g., the world tree, sacred mountains, the earth-diver, messengers, and guardians). In a mere 244 pages, however, few of the subdivisions within each chapter can be given slightly more than a page, and most earn a mere paragraph or two. "Origins of Fire," for example, allots approximately half a page to Greek, Native American, Peruvian, Australian, and South American myths. Bottom Line While the volume achieves its goal of providing an overview of the themes of world mythology, it sacrifices academic depth to do so in so few pages. As a basic reference book, it is recommended to school and public libraries. Academic libraries and those with deeper mythology collections might be better served by more focused studies. Katherine K. Koenig, Ellis Sch., Pittsburgh (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Choice Review

Stookey (Univ. of Nevada, Reno) provides a well-organized guide to the overlapping and common themes found in world mythology. Arranged by the common motifs found in myths worldwide, it serves as a good introduction to comparative mythology. Each major theme has several subheadings to aid students in understanding the cross-cultural patterns found in many myths; e.g., the goddess theme is divided into creator goddesses, earth goddesses, and mother goddesses. Each entry briefly explains the theme, relating it to other themes and cultures. Each entry has some examples of the motif and cross-references to other entries. A glossary after the entries clearly defines terms relating to mythology. Although not an exhaustive compendium about myths, this is a well-written, clearly organized set of introductory chapters on the commonalities found in many myths. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. General readers; lower-division undergraduates. G. Wood SUNY College at Cortland


Table of Contents

The Afterlife Animals in Myth
The Apocalypse Changing Ages
Cosmic Egg
Creation Myths
Culture Heroes
Deluge Motif
Descent Motif Earth-Diver
Motif Emergence
Motif Etiological Myths
The Fall Fertility Myths
Gods
Goddesses
Guardians
Messengers
Monsters
Primal Parents
The Quest Rainbow Sacred Mountains
Separation of Earth and Sky
Theomachy Tricksters Twins
The Underworld World Tree Ymir Motif