The book provides a clear and insightful introduction to all the central theorists of myth...Robert Segal achieves a great deal in this short 150 page introduction to myth. It is a concise without being simplistic; intricate without being confusing; playful without being contrite - a must have on any student's (or indeed teacher's!) bookcase. Fiona Darroch, Literature and Theology It isn't often that you find a book that gives you a brief, intelligible way into an entire field of study, but in Myth: A Very Short Introduction, Robert A. Segal does it in style. As a reader, especially a student reader, you walk away feeling enlightened from the power dosage of knowledge. Journal of Folklore Research The book will prove a very valuable guide for anybody setting foot in this minefield of contradictory theorising. Jacqueline Simpson,The Folklore Society Segal constructs a concise, accessible, and comprehensive survey... this small format volume, just the right size to fit conveniently into a pocket, is clearly written and engaging. Recommended for both classrooms and pockets. Diane Jonte-Pace, Religious Studies Review What he achieves is part handy field guide, part playbook of holds for wrestling with this protean phenomenon, surprising for its exhaustiveness in impossibly tight quarters. Victor Faessel, Spring 76 Segal's writing is entirely lucid Laurence Phelan, Independent on Sunday
This book is not about myths, but about approaches to myth, from all of the major disciplines, including science, religion, philosophy, literature, and psychology. The fate of the preternaturally beautiful Adonis is one of the main fables upon which Segal focuses, in an attempt to analyse the various different theories of myth. Where the theory does not work, he substitutes another myth, showing that, for all their claims to all-inclusiveness, certain theories, in fact, only apply to specific kinds of myths. A uniform set of questions is provided, to elucidate both the strengths and the weaknesses of the conjectures. A survey of the past 300 years of theorizing on myth, this book takes into account the work of such prominent thinkers as Albert Camus, Claude Levi-Strauss, Roland Barthes, C. G. Jung, and Sigmund Freud. Finally, Segal considers the future study of myth, and the possible function of myth in the world as the adult equivalent of play.