Myth : A Biography of Belief

3.88 (34 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

Free delivery worldwide

Available. Dispatched from the UK in 3 business days
When will my order arrive?


Joseph Campbell wrote that mythology is "the wonderful song of the soul's high adventure." In Myth, David Leeming considers the role this "wonderful song" has to play in a world increasingly dependent on scientific and technical information. Exploring classic works such as the Song of Songs, the Tao Te Ching, the Rg Veda, the New Testament, and the Indonesian myth of Hainuwele, Myth reveals the cultural energies that ancient "mythmakers" sought to corral in their creations. Leeming argues that myths are, by definition, evolving creations that live on in the work of modern-day "mythmakers" such as W.B. Yeats, Virginia Woolf, and Albert Einstein. Leeming provides an engaging new outlook on the role of myth in the works of these and other contemporary artists and scientists. The similarities between modern concepts like the "Big Bang" and ancient myths of creation illustrate our continuing need to confront the mysteries of existence by way of metaphor and narrative. Leeming suggests that myth and factual knowledge do not negate, but complement each other.
Whether it is the "American Dream," alien abduction, or belief in virgin birth and resurrection, these "living myths" play a very therapeutic role in the development of a healthy society. In Myth: A Biography of Belief, David Leeming shows that myths are still a fitting way to capture "the soul's high adventure."
show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 192 pages
  • 128 x 179.8 x 14.2mm | 181.44g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 019516105X
  • 9780195161052
  • 2,113,021

Review quote

"In this little book, Leeming's ideas about the emerging myths of the twenty-first century (set suitably into a history of myth) make it essential that, within a few years, he write another book to tell us how it all came out."-Paul Bohannan, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, University of Southern California "A profound interpretation of myth and religion. A must for all seekers after meaning and purpose."-James H. Cone, Briggs Distinguished Professor of Theology, Union Theological Seminary "David Leeming has provided us in this compact book a compelling account of the powers of myth to inform the human condition and ultimately to provide meaning as myth persists from ancient time to the present. Here, the reader will enter into the mythic worlds of classic religious texts, into debates about science and modernism, and perhaps most importantly, into the realm of myth's enduring archetype, the hero."-Richard D. Hecht, Professor of Religious Studies and
Director of the Center for the Study of Religion, University of California at Santa Barbara "Leeming brings myth out of the past and smartly into the present.... Challenges readers to look beyond antiquity and to recognize how artists, writers and scientists help create the modern and postmodern myths through which we achieve self-understanding."-Publishers Weekly "Elegant contributions to the vast literature on mythology, these well informed and thoroughly documented studies enhance our understanding of this elusive topic."-Library Journal (part of dual review)
show more

About David Leeming

David Leeming is Emeritus Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Connecticut and author of A Dictionary of Asian Mythology (OUP 2000). He currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.
show more

Rating details

34 ratings
3.88 out of 5 stars
5 26% (9)
4 41% (14)
3 26% (9)
2 6% (2)
1 0% (0)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X