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The New Comparative Mythology, by C. Scott Littleton

Reviewed by CelticScholar

This edition of the book was printed in 1982 so it is considerably older than most of the books I have read on the theories of myth. It is mainly concerned with George Dumézil’s theories and the author tells us that he is not an Indo-Europeanist and is looking at these theories from the point of view of a social anthropologist. The author defends his right to write about Dumézil’s theories by arguing that Dumézil’s comparative mythology is based upon sociological and anthropological assumptions heavily.

The book is divided into three parts. The first part is about the backgrounds of both the Proto-Indo-European culture and Comparative mythology. The second part is about the development of the tripartite system and the third part is about the people who supported the theory, the people who went against it and an anthropological assessment of it. The book also contains an Appendix, which is split into two parts. The first part is a survey of the recent (in 1982) contributions made by both Dumézil and others and part two is a reprint of a paper on the differences between Dumézil and Lévi-Strauss that originally appeared in the Journal of Asian Studies in 1974. The book also has a references cited section, which is huge and very interesting.

The introduction gave us two very important pieces of information that are the basis of Dumézil’s work and will help the reader move forward through the book. The first is the assumptions that are the basis of Dumézil’s comparative analysis of the varied social and mythological forms presented by the ancient Indo-European speaking world and the second is an overview of the tripartite system.

Read the original article at: Celtic Scholars Reviews and Opinions

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