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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."
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.