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Bulfinch's Mythology (Modern Library Classics) Paperback – August 11, 1998

4.1 out of 5 stars 129 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

This book is in Electronic Paperback Format. If you view this book on any of the computer systems below, it will look like a book. Simple to run, no program to install. Just put the CD in your CDROM drive and start reading. The simple easy to use interface is child tested at pre-school levels.

Windows 3.11, Windows/95, Windows/98, OS/2 and MacIntosh and Linux with Windows Emulation.

Includes Quiet Vision's Dynamic Index. the abilty to build a index for any set of characters or words. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Author

Please be aware that there are many editions of this book. The original text dates to 1855. The only volume with which I have been involved--and which, naturally, I consider the best--is the 1991 HarperCollins hardback for which I provided a long introduction and scholarly notes. Apparently many reviewers on this site have been sold inferior editions by earlier editors, still circulating.
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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library Classics
  • Paperback: 888 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library; Reprint edition (August 11, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375751475
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375751479
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (129 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #231,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael Wischmeyer on November 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
"The Age of Fable" is an enjoyable, easy to read introduction to Greek and Roman mythology.
Today we lament that people have little time for the classics and even less for mythology. Bulfinch, writing in 1855, said much the same, "To devote study to a species of learning which relates wholly to false marvels and obsolete faiths, is not to be expected of a general reader in a practical age like this."
And yet without some familiarity with Greek and Roman mythology we not only have little understanding of Greek and Roman civilization, we also limit our appreciation for some of the greatest English literature and poetry. Shakespeare, Keats, Milton, and other English writers have assumed that readers are acquainted with mythology. And more basic, we also deprive ourselves of some fascinating and enjoyable stories and tales.
In writing "The Age of Fable" Bulfinch focused on "mythology as connected with literature", not just the fables themselves. He created a book that has remained easy to read and as well serves as an amazingly useful reference when reading 16th, 17th, and 18th century literature and poetry. I have repeatedly found that what was an obscure and murky reference to mythology took on meaning and significance by a quick visit to Bulfinch. I particularly appreciate his index of names: it really helps me track down those prolific deities.
I sometimes pick up "The Age of Fable" and simply browse a few pages, exploring a new tale, a new adventure by powerful deities with magnified human frailties. Buy a copy, you won't be disappointed.
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Format: Paperback
It is an anthology of mythology I often use simply to look up the major myths, because it's easy to find things in Bulfinch. If I knew of a modern alternative which filled the same role as well, I might rank Bulfinch a 3. It's a fairly good reference for Greek, Roman and Arthurian legends. He pretty much paraphrases e.g. Virgil's Aeneid and Ovid's Metamorphisis. He also provides the basic Egyptian and Viking myths. But anything East of the Levant is given very short shrift, probably because at the time this was written, those myths were not so available in the West.

There's no question he loved these stories, but I can't say I'm left with the feeling that he has been truly struck by the Myth, that the Myth has truly destabilized him the way it has Frazer, Jung or Joseph Campbell.

And no doubt this collection would not have been published at all at that time were he not willing to leave out significant facts that the book might be readable by well-bred ladies. Any castrations are left out or (worse) revised. Cronos was deposed. Theseus slays the Minotaur, but the part about how the Minotaur came to be in the first place is omitted. Attis comes across as a romantic story. You find neither the factual story behind it as laid out by Herodotus nor any intimation about the nature of the fantastical cult which arose around it as described in Frazer.

At the same time, although most major bookstores now have whole sections devoted to mythology, and hundreds of anthologies have come out, I've never quite found anything that takes the place of Bulfinch, and so I keep it on my shelf.
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By A Customer on April 4, 2002
Format: Paperback
So many people are like me...they read and studied mythology in school, then rapidly forgot much of what they learned. Some knowledge of mythology, however, is necessary if one wants to undertand and appreciate great literature. So many great authors draw upon mythology in their work. One (and only one) example is Milton; so many people who say they don't understand "Paradise Lost" are simply missing allusions to the mythology contained instead.
I'm not a classicist, a theologian or a philosopher. I'm not an expert in ancient Greek or Latin. What I am is a lover of great literature and it pains me when I come upon a mythological reference I don't recognize or remember.
I tried using a classical dictionary, but found this created one problem while failing to solve another. The problem is that it is annoying to interrupt the flow of one's reading to look up an allusion in a dictionary. I'd almost rather skip the reading than do that. And, even after looking up an allusion, at least in a dictionary, we usually still don't understand the poetry and the full meaning of the myth.
"Bulfinch's Mythology" solves this problem. With this book, anyone can learn about the gods and goddesses of Greek and Roman antiquity, of Scandinavian, Celtic and Oriental fable and of the Age of Chivalry, in a readable and entertaining manner.
With "Bulfinch's Mythology," we certainly won't learn as much as a scholar, but we will learn enough to enjoy and appreciate the references to mythology we encounter in literature, painting, sculpture and music.
The stories in "Bulfinch's Mythology" are divided into three sections: The Age of Fable, The Age of Chivalry and The Legends of Charlemagne.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Overall a good book for novice readers to of mythology. Good basic stories written in prose. Also has explanations of the use of myth in poetry. The footnotes are clear and concise, and where appropriate provide further information about the text you just read. My only quibble with the book is that it's called Greek and Roman myth, when they put the names of Roman deities first, and the name of the Greek dieties in parentheses. This is a book you read if you want to expand your knowledge base about mythology. This is not a book for people already know the stories. This is a good book for people who know nothing about greek myth, and are looking for a place to start.
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