A Short History of Myth (Myths)
by Karen Armstrong
Review by Gayle Surrette
Canongate U.S. Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 184195716X
Date: 09 November, 2005 List Price $18.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
You won't read myths and have them explained, instead Armstrong tells us about the uses of myth to bring meaning and ritual into daily life. This is the sort of book every writer should take at least one look at when they wonder why some stories resonate with readers, being read over and over, while others get put aside and forgotten.
Humans tell stories. For years this was the way wisdom and information was passed down to the younger generations. Myth is an integral part of life and stories to be past to the next generation had to relate to the life the people were living. Myths were a way of imparting information and showing the way to acceptable behavior.
Myth...is true because it is effective, not because it gives us factual information. If it does not give us new insight into the deeper meaning of life, it has failed. If it works ...if it forces us to change our minds and hearts, gives us new hope, and compels us to live more fully, it is a valid myth. (p. 10)
Once myths no longer speak to us the myth has failed and is no longer useful. Stories that resonate with us tell us something about ourselves and our lives. These stories get retold and reconfigured each generation because they still speak to us of life and how it should be lived. Once a myth no longer strikes a chord within us it is useless and should be discarded.