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Theorizing Myth: Narrative, Ideology, and…

Theorizing Myth: Narrative, Ideology, and Scholarship

by Bruce Lincoln

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It may be expected that I would dislike the work of a marxist critic who has been hailed by some of the most fashionably 'radical' scholars in the field, but Bruce Lincoln's Theorizing Myth is a bold, wide-ranging, and satisfying work of scholarship, a rare feat in the theory camp. The most enduring value of the work is its presentation of the history of myth in the service of nationalism in the modern period, with the complicity of certain European scholars.

A caveat, however: Lincoln seems to imply that post-Renaissance attitudes toward myth set the stage for the rise of fascism and the atrocities of Nazi Germany. It would perhaps be more fair to say that the scholarship of the time (and the forgeries, e.g., Macpherson's Ossian) lent anti-Semitism an air of legitimacy on the popular stage. To claim anything more borders on the sensational.

This is a useful book if you're willing to wade through occasional patches of theoretical mist. ( )
1 vote thecardiffgiant | May 29, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0226482022, Paperback)

In Theorizing Myth, Bruce Lincoln traces the way scholars and others have used the category of "myth" to fetishize or deride certain kinds of stories, usually those told by others.

He begins by showing that mythos yielded to logos not as part of a (mythic) "Greek miracle," but as part of struggles over political, linguistic, and epistemological authority occasioned by expanded use of writing and the practice of Athenian democracy. Lincoln then turns his attention to the period when myth was recuperated as a privileged type of narrative, a process he locates in the political and cultural ferment of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Here, he connects renewed enthusiasm for myth to the nexus of Romanticism, nationalism, and Aryan triumphalism, particularly the quest for a language and set of stories on which nation-states could be founded.

In the final section of this wide-ranging book, Lincoln advocates a fresh approach to the study of myth, providing varied case studies to support his view of myth—and scholarship on myth—as ideology in narrative form.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:50 -0400)

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