A Short History of Myth

“Visionary … a crisp and lucid exploration of myth-making.” David Mitchell, Sunday Herald

“Elegantly argued and consistently thought-provoking” David Flusfeder, Daily Telegraph

“With characteristic incisiveness, Armstrong explores the development of myth from prehistory to the present day” Daily Mail

“Canongate launches its series with small beautiful books by three wise women. Karen Armstrong provides a critical rationale for the project” Observer

“With her succinct, thoughtfully elucidate A Short History of Myth, religious historian Karen Armstrong supplies the brilliant anchor for Canongate’s vast new series.” Elle

“Witty, informative and contemplative.” New York Times

“Human beings have always been mythmakers.”

What are myths? How have they evolved? And why do we still so desperately need them?

Heralding a major series of retellings of international myths by authors from around the world, Armstrong’s characteristically insightful and eloquent book serves as a brilliant and though-provoking introduction to myth in the broadest sense – and why we dismiss it only at our peril.

Karen ArmstrongKaren Armstrong’s first book, the best-selling Through the Narrow Gate (1981), described her seven years as a nun in a Roman Catholic order. She has published numerous books, including A History of God, which has been translated into thirty languages, A History of Jerusalem and In the Beginning: A New Reading of Genesis. Her more recent works include Islam: A Short History and Buddha, which was an international bestseller. Since 1982 she has been a freelance writer and broadcaster. She lives in London.
  1. Spencer (February 27, 2008 at 1:27 am) :

    This is a great intro into the whole Myth series. It’s a really nice book that sets the tone of the whole series – the exploration of the myth and how they apply to the modern world. In a time when it would be easy to dismiss myths as something from the past that no longer speak to us, this book is a breath of fresh air that reminds us why myths are not only still relevant, but still powerful.

  2. Randy (March 7, 2008 at 3:47 pm) :

    Karen Armstrong’s *A Short History of Myth* provides an excellent introduction to the psychological and social aspects of mythology. She surveys six different historical periods, focusing on how myth evolved in each of them. She treats the topic with amazing clarity, brevity, and precision.

    This book is by no means revolutionary: Armstrong draws quite heavily on a legacy of great research and analysis done in the twentieth century. But even if you have already studied mythology to some degree, I still recommend this book. After taking multiple courses in mythology at the university, the book still introduced me to some new ideas and added structure to my previously scattered thoughts.

  3. Aneesha Myles Shewani (November 3, 2008 at 6:21 am) :

    The book contains the story of transition – from mythos to logos – and why modern society fails to believe in myths. While it traces the history, the evolution, and the slow disintegration of myths during varioius stages of human advancement, it also endorses modern authors and storytellers to create significant humantarian myths that can recreate the magic and mysticism that is absent in our modern lives. I personally liked the interpretation of how society came to worship the Mother Goddess, and the concept of the hunters empathizing with the hunted. If you have been wondering why myths are always ancient, and why there are no modern myths, except for legends like those of Vampires and SuperMan, this book provides a quick insight.

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