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World Mythology: An Anthology of Great Myths and Epics 3rd Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0844259666
ISBN-10: 0844259667
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Editorial Reviews

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Product Details

  • Lexile Measure: 1030L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 722 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education; 3 edition (February 12, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0844259667
  • ISBN-13: 978-0844259666
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
First off, for a paperback this book is extremely overpriced. Why did I get it? I was required to purchase it for a college mythology course. I was hoping it would be a great source of world myth, but I was quickly disappointed. Rosenberg waters down and CENSORS the mythology.
For example: In the story of Osiris and Isis, Rosenberg's version said that all of Osiris' parts were recovered. This is not true to the myth as any casual mythology student can tell you. A fish ate one part that was never recovered. Another omission was from Gilgamesh when Enkidu is tamed. Rosenberg leaves out the fact that the "priestess"was actually a temple harlot and she tamed him through six days of sex. These are only the first two stories I have read and I am sure there will be more the further I get into it. It is almost as if Rosenberg is afraid to tackle the adult issues presented in a lot of mythology.
Now normally I would not have a problem with leaving a little out here or there. But when students are required to fully analyze the meaning of a myth or epic we need the whole story. For the price and lack of cartoony illustrations this book is obviously not aimed at children. Give us the unedited, un-PC, correct, original versions of the myths.I don't want to assume things that should be in the stories to begin with.
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Format: Hardcover
I think a number of the other reviews missed the point in this volume. This book offers an amazingly diverse sampling of the world's mythologies, preceding each myth with an introduction that attempts to provide some cultural context. These are NOT the original myths, as people have noted, but that is done intentionally. Had each of these stories been included in its original form the result would have been a cyclopean tome that likely would have to be broken into numerous volumes. But why do that? There are already countless disparate sources available for one to find the original stories -- this book offers more of a "world mythology digest" that tries to hit on the key themes and events of each story it relates, and does a decent enough job doing so.
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Format: Paperback
Unfortunately, this is about as good as it gets if you want students to read myths (rather than reading ABOUT myths) and give them some cultural variety. The alternative for an instructor is putting together a prohibitively expensive reader, or requiring a whole list of books, or depending on students to read excerpts from books on library reserve (which they ordinarily won't do), or requiring other single-volume texts that are imperfect in their own ways. (Thury and DeVinney's "Introduction to Mythology," good as it is, is labyrinthine in its organization and would make my students leap off the nearest cliff; Roy Willis's "World Mythology" is all descriptions and summaries, with no narratives at all.)

This collection leaves much to be desired, though, and so do Rosenberg's interpretations. I'm not sure what her specialty is, but in many cases she relies on poor sources. For the Celtic material, for instance, she draws from reprints of 19th and early 20th century texts that are themselves inaccurate fairy-tale-style retellings of the actual texts. Her descriptions of Celtic belief are also grossly outdated: so far as we now know, the Celts were not sun worshippers and their major holidays were not at the solstices and equinoxes. Even the most cursory research would have led her to more accurate translations in scholarly journals, or she could have used the same sources that Gantz did for his much more accurate renditions of Irish myth in "Early Irish Myths and Sagas"--one of the many texts one would have to require in the multi-text syllabus.
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Format: Paperback
The potential reader of this work; the potential buyer need to understand that this is a text book. Furthermore, it is a test book which was original meant for use in high schools. There are plusses and minuses found here, depending upon your point of view, teaching philosophy and overall comfort level.

To start with I feel that I would be difficult to present such a wide range of works to a class of high schools student; a range that covers most of the world and its history, in a format of just 722 pages. To do this, and do it right, would necessitate the use of many volumes. You could quite easily fill three our four volumes of this size merely investigating Greek and Roman Mythology. No, there are space restrictions at play here that must be considered.

That being said, the author has done a nice job of representing the Middle East, Greece and Rome, the Far East and the Pacific Islands, the British Isles, Northern Europe, Africa, and the Americas. To do this though, with the space limitations at play, something had to suffer. Alas.

The author has used a very heavy hand in the arena of censorship. I did not fine one tale in this work that had not been bowdlerized to one extent or another. The work (not so skillfully) and pretty well obliterated almost all mention of sexual situations, extreme violence and so on. I can understand what the author is trying to do but I fear I must completely disagree with her method of doing it.

Sex, violence, injustices, gore, shocking acts...they are all an extremely important part of most mythologies. With out the blood, guts and sex, you really miss the point of many of these stories; the essence of the myth is completely neutered. Not good!
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