Wordtrade LogoWordtrade.com


Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


The History of Atlantis by Lewis Spence ( Dover ) The History of Atlantis is an unabridged replication of the 1968 title published by Crown Publishers, which was a reprint of the work originally published in 1926 by Rider (Wm) & Son, Ltd. 
The romantic legend of the rise and fall of Atlantis has captured imaginations since Plato first told of a glorious island in the Atlantic that sank beneath the waves. Speculation has abounded ever since: Was there really a great ancient civilization on a vast continent, now many thousands of fathoms under the sea? Or is Atlantis rooted in the Great Flood stories found in cultures around the world?
Scientists formerly dismissed the possibility that Atlantis ever existed but were obliged to reconsider, partly because of the author of this book. Lewis Spence wrote five books about Atlantis, and this one is considered his best. A distinguished scholar, Spence sifted through a tremendous body of fact and conjecture in fields ranging from mythology and comparative religion to geography, geology, and archeology. He brings a fresh and imaginative vision to the old stories, separating fact from fancy in regard to the history, geography, animal life, government, and religion of this fabled island.
The History of Atlantis
endures as the most authoritative study every published on Atlantis, while Spence embodies the perfect guide to this strange and enthralling mystery of the ancient world.

The Seven Story Tower: A Mythic Journey Through Space and Time by Curtiss Hoffman (Perseus Publishing) is an introduction to the world of myth, explored in cross-cultural context. This book provides readers with the conceptual tools to analyze and appreciate myth as a vital function of human cultural expression. Curtiss Hoffman, a noted archaeologist and anthropologist, approaches the subject from a social sciences perspective, combining the insights of cultural anthropology and analytical psychology. Each myth is considered within its specific cultural context; but, by comparing myths from different cultures around the world, we can discuss what is significant about the role of myth in all human societies, including our own

From the white stag to the green knight, The Seven Story Tower examines how myth colors our perception of history, nature, and ourselves. Organized around seven key myths-representing the Irish, Greek, Sumerian, Indonesian, Amazonian, and Inuit cultures, as well as the fantasy world of J. R. R. Tolkien-this book is the perfect intro-duction to the common themes found in world mythology. Curtiss Hoffman, a noted archaeologist and anthropologist, takes us beyond the entertaining stories and uses insights from cultural anthropology and analytical psychology to analyze the many common themes found throughout. In particular, he examines the significance of names, numbers, plants, animals, the heavenly bodies, and the human body. The Seven Story Tower will enhance the reader's appreciation of myth's power today over our lives and cultures.

Structure of Identity: Adultery as Self-Delusion

The Bedtrick: Tales of Sex and Masquerade by Wendy Doniger continues her exploration of world mythology of sex and gender, which was introduced with her, The Implied Spider (PAPERBACK) and began seriously with the Jordan Lectures in Comparative Religion, published as Splitting the Difference: Gender and Myth in Ancient Greece and India    (PAPERBACK), where Doniger explored sexual doubling stories with adroit enthusiasm. The Bedtrick is the third installment of her prodigious project of examining, across cultures and times, those tales of love and desire that have made the list of the "Top Ten Hits of World Mythology." There are very few scholars who could find the common ground among Disney's The Little Mermaid, Arthur Schnitzler, Herodotus, and Mae West. Fewer still could write about the connections with the enthusiasm, energy, and enormous talent that Wendy Doniger brings to the study of myths and stories

In The Bedtrick, it's waking up with a stranger--be it an animal, a god in disguise, your own spouse, or a man dressed as a woman (or vice versa). Getting into bed with an imposter, or a bedtrick, is a pervasive theme through centuries (including our own) of literature, art, film, and oral traditions, and Doniger immerses herself and the reader in these wonderful tales to ask if true love can tell the difference between one person and another. The Bedtrick is an encyclopedic and readable assortment of erotic farces and deceits as well as a dazzling study of the human imagination across cultures.

Though the connections are well attested and deftly explored, Doniger seems a little thin on the fuller ramifications of these behavioral conceits in story rather than fact. Her marshaling of some feminist theory with classic psychoanalytic theory provides some depth but the wider implications still seem hazy. Still all told Doniger is one of the most exciting mythologists writing today.

KA by Roberto Calasso, translated by Tim Parks ($27.50 hardcover, 464 pages, Knopf; ISBN: 0679451315)

With the same startling originality and brilliance that made his Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony (Vintage), a literary landmark,and with the humanism of The Ruin of Kasch (Harvard Belknap Press), Roberto Calasso narrates the birth of one of the world’s great cultures: the formation of the mind of India. He doesn’t explain or describe this mental world he regenerates it through its epic cyclical stories and customs, until we no longer need to define it for ourselves because we have come to know what it is.

So: Who is KA ? And who is the immense eagle asking the question, filling the sky, elephant and giant turtle dwarfed in his claws? How can he be the child of a woman? Who are the tiny folk he eats? The first impact of KA  is one of tremendous strangeness, bewilderment, disorientation. How can a Western tradition which demands to identify a beginning and an end understand one that sees no beginning and no end, but only an eternal tangle? Slowly, though, the strange becomes familiar, as new and ever more fantastic stories are spun out, Orods emerge, bizarre sacrifices are performed. Why must the king’s wife copulate with a dead horse?  Why is the first girl the dawn and the second the dusk? Rejecting our cravings to have the culture systematized and predigested for us, Calasso invites us to understand India on Indian terms, through Indian images through India itself.

As KA   unfolds, the worlds of the Devas, of Siva, Brahma and Visnu, of the wars of the Mahabharata, are splendidly revealed, until finally, with the advent of the Buddha, we are amazed at our own sense of recognition, for these stories seem to confirm, or to articulate for the first time, our own deepest perceptions about our human condition.

An entirely unique reading experience from an author at once supremely erudite and unceasingly creative. This is myth recreated within the frame of living experience. A delight to read for its learning and poetic sense.

Born in Florence, Roberto Calasso lives in Milan, where he is publisher of Adelphi. He is the author of The Ruin of Kasch and Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony, which was the winner of France’s Prix Veillon and the Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger

Headline 3

insert content here