The Modern Construction of Myth by Andrew Von Hendy

The Modern Construction of Myth is a book that gives a critical account of how myth came to be seen in modernity.  It starts in the eighteenth century with the reinvention of the concept of myth and then follows the major branches of the theories, of which the author tells us there are three, as they appear in the works of theologians, philosophers, literary artists, political thinkers, folklorists, anthropologists, psychologists and others from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries.

Generally, what I took away from the book is that there were three phases of development in the field of theories of mythology, the first was in the eighteenth century called the romantic era; the second is in the nineteenth century where the origin of myth was important, and the third phase was in the twentieth century when the function of the myth was important.  These distinctions of course were not always clear and co-existed.

Also of these three phases and during the last two phases, you have three strands of mythological theories, what the author calls ideological, folklorist and constitutive and all three stem and stand in relation to romantic or transcendental origin.

I have to say that for me the book was a bit hard to follow.  I knew all the names mentioned in the book from other books that I have read and dealt with the same material but it was hard for me to follow what the theories were and how these people developed them.  Some chapters I’ve had to read more than a few times just to get what he was talking about.  The author used really hard words that sent me to the dictionary (and really he could have used easier words that were still big words if you know what I mean…).  This book is not for anyone beginning to study theories of mythology like me, but rather for someone who is already extremely familiar with the theories and want to trace them to their origins and to see how they evolved.


2 thoughts on “The Modern Construction of Myth by Andrew Von Hendy

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