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Category:Curious Myths of the Middle Ages
Popular Features. New Releases. Description One of the most brilliant, eclectic thinkers in Victorian England, the Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould was intrigued by the grotesque and often savage history of the Middle Ages. The noted author and folklorist's fascination with the period resulted in this absorbing compilation of vintage tales surrounding such figures as William Tell and the Man in the Moon. George -- are rejuvenated in this collection for a new audience. In addition to outlines of the myths, the author provides an objective analysis of their origins, relevance, and the extent of their basis in fact.
Fascinating sources include Christian adaptations of prehistoric legends, misinterpretations of actual events, and outright fabrications. Accompanying illustrations provide a visual appreciation for these timeless classics. A marvelous introduction to age-old stories, this oft-cited work will be of value and interest to students, scholars, and other readers. Other books in this series. Add to basket. Tattooing in the Marquesas Willowdean Chatterson Handy. Great Myths of the World Padraic Colum.
Irish Fairy Legends T.
Vampire in Lore and Legend Montague Summers. But everything about This work does its best to discredit original folklore and mythologies by claiming they were naught but a bad influence on the later 'purified,' Christianized versions so heavily employed by the Church to lure a more pagan following into the pews. But everything about the authorship, from the lazy scholarship to the rabid Antisemitism, is terrible, and I felt dirty mining the few gems I did from it. I can't damn it as much as I'd like, because it did at least preserve those few things, and when it wasn't proselytizing for the Catholic Church it was even interesting, no matter how reluctant it would seem be.
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Stupidest Part: wherein the author randomly determines Protestantism is keeping alive various heathen practices and goes on to plainly announce Methodism as a sham cover for druidism. I can't make this shit up. It's my fault for not paying attention- my dumb ass thought these were literally a selection of Medieval myths. But no. This is a religious Christian analysis of said myths. I tried to read it anyway; but no dice for me. Aug 06, Sarah rated it it was ok Shelves: historical-writing , medieval-info-and-lit.
I had wanted to read a book of myths but this was more like an explanation of the myths. It was an interesting albeit biased bit of information on a few of the more popular folktales. Baring-Gould collects in one place many of the myths of Medieval England, which are likely uncommon to many contemporary readers, although some remain familiar i. William Tell.
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Baring-Gould does an excellent job of relating these stories to the extant mythology from many ancient cultures and as such draws into question the historical veracity. I found however that his eagerness to dispel the legitimacy of the myths was high strung and almost fervent. He is so convinced himself that he leaves Baring-Gould collects in one place many of the myths of Medieval England, which are likely uncommon to many contemporary readers, although some remain familiar i.
He is so convinced himself that he leaves the reader without a sense of fairness or justice in his treatment of the material - even when we are inclined to agree with him. He also presumes that historical precedence precludes re-occurence which can be a dangerous assumption in matters of human experience. Really very interesting. There are parts that are very obviously written from the Victorian point of view, which made me wonder how much of that interpretation was still worthwhile.
However, I did get to read about a bunch of myths I'd never heard of before, and the parallels drawn between "Jack and Jill went up the hill" and Nordic myths about children in the moon and the phases of the moon were fascinating.
Curious Myths of the Middle Ages
Seemed to be have a lot of research behind it. However, it was more a history of the myths than simply their telling. Interesting how the medieval myths were such a strange conglomeration of Christian beliefs and pagan superstition. No, I didn't actually finish this. It's an interesting book, nonetheless. It's basically an examination of the various myths and legends found in Europe during the Middle Ages.
Baring-Gould traces the origin of a myth and compares the various versions of the same basic myth.
I enjoyed the ones that I did read. Unfortunately I had to return it to the library and did not feel compelled to borrow it again in order to finish. Fantastic read by a pioneering British folklorist who was also an incredibly interesting guy -- look him up. The book came out in , so its interpretation of medieval folklore isn't the final word, but nobody beats this guy for style.
Reads like a velvet fist to the face. Charming stuff from a born storyteller. Jul 08, Joe rated it it was ok. The title is the coolest part about this book. Mostly a snooze fest. Jun 08, Bram van der Meij rated it it was ok.
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A bit simple. Probably just right for those who like it short and simple but I like things a little meatier.
Maps and illustrations would have made a big difference. On the day I received my exam results I visited Bath with the aim of buying myself a piece of jewellery, something I do on every significant day. This didn't work out so well with the woman in the jewellery shop being rather rude and me walking out empty handed. However, this did mean I had some extra time, and money, which was put to good use in the local Oxfam second hand bookshop. I will admit that I bought this book because of the pictures.
Call me fickle if you like but since I received an i On the day I received my exam results I visited Bath with the aim of buying myself a piece of jewellery, something I do on every significant day. Call me fickle if you like but since I received an illustrated Odyssey and Iliad for Christmas when I was about eight I have been a sucker for illustrated mythologies.
The illustrations, which I believe are by Peter Komarnyckyj who certainly drew the cover image, are really lovely and remain my favourite part of this book. In fact, they are what lift the rating. All of these aspects were very interesting but I didn't feel that they went together all that well. It made for rather a jerking, jittering read. If I'm completely honest, I enjoyed the introduction section to each myth the most out of all of the writing.
I found myself reminded of Herodotus, in style, when reading Gould's writing on the myths and that is not a compliment! The stories themselves, are usually told in brief. Gould then ties in pieces of 'evidence' to give a fuller picture of stories around the myths in question. Although this means that you get 'all' the story, although I've no doubt that the tales included were chosen as relevant by Gould, leading to omissions, it means that it's not really a story at all but rather a list of happenings.
The tales wouldn't be interesting to someone who hadn't already got an interest in Medieval myths. Then you get onto interpretation and ideas about where the stories and myths might have come from. The biggest complaint I have read about this book regards the somewhat tunnel visioned interpretation that Gould offers of the myths detailed, he being both Victorian, and a Christian Reverend.
I would agree that there is a Christian emphasis to the myths, both in the choosing, and in the telling. That said, writing often tells us more about the people who wrote it and the times in which they lived than the times about which they are writing and I think that, if we can keep that in mind, it's not a bad thing at all. It's impossible to be objective. However, I do think Gould was trying to be objective, stating, "Like many another ancient myth, it was laid hold of by Christian hands and baptised". All the same, it's probably not the most objective academic study of mythology available.
And that's the problem really. It doesn't give a seemingly full interpretation. It sets out to do too much and in trying to do that doesn't really do any of it. Overall, the book was a disappointment, I'm sorry to say. Fascinating, if dated, look at some myths and legends, some very well known and some very obscure. B-G tries to find traces of the legends in earlier myths and fragments, showing off his vast erudition. A few of his conclusions are rather bizarre he infamously claims that Methodism is a revival of Druidism and he makes a lot of speculation to help fill in the connections between possibly connected legends.
One example that really stood out was in his analysis of the story of the Bishop Hatto, Fascinating, if dated, look at some myths and legends, some very well known and some very obscure. One example that really stood out was in his analysis of the story of the Bishop Hatto, who is eaten by rats. He finds many echoes of the theme in stories taking place earlier and later, and ultimately connects it to human sacrifice among the ancient Scandinavians: the Norse "might" have sacrificed people by breaking their backs and marooning them on rat-infested islands.
Well certainly there were some odd methods of sacrificing people in the north but that's a very specific and strange scenario to assume, lacking any accounts of such a practice! But for the most part he is convincing. The themes and motifs he finds connecting medieval myths with earlier beliefs mostly seem solid, and he makes a good case for many of his claims about pagan survivals into Christian-era folklore. Readers unfamiliar with 19th century scholarship will be taken aback by some of the turns of phrase for example he uses the now loaded term "Aryan" for what we'd now call Indo-European, and "race" in place of "ethnicity" or "nationality" , but he has no more bias than you'd expect for a 19th century Englishman.
That is, he has the usual anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic prejudices, but does not dwell on them. He also gives extended quotes of texts in Latin and other languages without translation, which was a common 19th century practice, but for the most part he provides English paraphrases instead. I think 19th century non-fiction books of this stripe are something of an acquired taste, as it takes a while to cut through the blatant lack of objectivity, endless references to others texts, and menacing blocks of untranslated Latin to get to the actual information.
Still, as far as ponderous Victorian books on folklore go, Baring-Gould is honestly more entertaining than his competition. Each chapter of Curious Myths of the Middle Ages generally begins with a solid piece of folklore and then I think 19th century non-fiction books of this stripe are something of an acquired taste, as it takes a while to cut through the blatant lack of objectivity, endless references to others texts, and menacing blocks of untranslated Latin to get to the actual information.
Each chapter of Curious Myths of the Middle Ages generally begins with a solid piece of folklore and then proceeds to ramble its way into absurdity. The section on William Tell eventually terminates into a satirical piece on how Napoleon is the living incarnation of the sun. The chapter on the Swan Knight eventually brings the reader to some bizarre concluding remarks on how druidism has secretly survived in the guise of Methodism. Baring-Gould's analyses obviously don't hold much scholarly weight by 21st century standards, but if one looks at the book as a study of Victorians rather than as a study of actual folklore, there's a great deal of fun to be had from it.
If you can manage the sometimes ponderous writing style, this is a very interesting look at some widespread European legends. Whatever the case, the back-stories and legend parallel are often really intriguing, although I'm not sure we can be quite so conclusive these days about the symbolism etc. A common theme is the "pagan" roots of many a supposedly pure "Christian" fable or person. Although Baring-Gould sometime If you can manage the sometimes ponderous writing style, this is a very interesting look at some widespread European legends.
Although Baring-Gould sometimes uses this as ammunition against other denominations than his own Anglican faith, the point is never taken too far in my opinion. The author is simply too delightedly caught up in his folkloristic investigations. And these days, theories that English Dissenter denominations carried a fair dose of pre-Christian inspiration could almost be seen as a recommendation! Also, at one stage he regrets that the Church never adopted a particularly poetic ancient tale. May 11, Jack Wright rated it really liked it. Each chapter follows a similar formula: a telling of the traditional or most common version of that story followed by a general analysis of the story and ending with similar stories in either events or themes from other cultures or geographical regions.
That's what I liked about this book. There were some myths that I was familiar with and others that I had never heard of before. It's a good read that is both informative to a certain extent and entertaining. A useful compendium of mediaeval folklore, from the Victorian perspective.