Book Review: Comparative Mythology

This entry was posted on September 4, 2007 under Book Reviews, Dedicants Program. Written by:

I picked Comparative Mythology as my final book review, at the recommendation of my friend Zalon Draconis. While in-depth and interesting, I found this book to be the most difficult read out of any of the books I chose. So much that there was very little in the first chapter that sunk in or I even understood. Which widely contradicts several reviews I’ve seen for the book, which attempt to insinuate that this is an easy and entertaining read.

For example, on page 133 he states “Myth presents her (Athena) born from Zeus’s aching head under the obstetric ministrations of Hephaisto’s sledgehammer”, which in laymens terms just means that Athena was born from Zeus’s head after an uber headache given to him when Hephaistos’ whacked him in the head with his legendary sledgehammer. I’m exaggerating a bit here, but all the same I think the writing style of Puhvel is certainly out of my league and understanding.

The book itself is littered with proper cultural phrases from that particular mythos, and while it’s important to be introduced to these phrases and words, I found them distracting from the actual content.

As far as actual content goes, I thought Puhvel’s understandable comparisons between mythos were enlightening. I had never realized before Comparative Mythology, the concept of Universal Mythology and how several different cultures, even Native American and Greek (as stated on page 3) had similarities and patterns in their stories, even though they were leagues apart. It inexplicably shows that there is a common core to a lot of the beliefs from many cultures, and on the same token, that our ancestors were very similar. Unlike modern times where everyone puts so many dividers and obstacles between them and other cultures.

I’m hesitant to recommend this book to other dedicant’s. It is a great resource, and invaluable to ADF students and scholars. But I’m of the mind that literature should be made accessible to all, not just people with a masters degree of the English language.

(Word Count: 330)

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