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Download When They Severed Earth from Sky: How the Human Mind Shapes Myth Audiobook (Unabridged)

Extended Audio Sample When They Severed Earth from Sky: How the Human Mind Shapes Myth (Unabridged), by Elizabeth Wayland Barber
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (99 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Elizabeth Wayland Barber Narrator: Beth Richmond Publisher: University Press Audiobooks Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Why were Prometheus and Loki envisioned as chained to rocks? What was the Golden Calf? Why are mirrors believed to carry bad luck? How could anyone think that mortals like Perseus, Beowulf, and St. George actually fought dragons, since dragons don't exist? Strange though they sound, however, these myths did not begin as fiction.

This absorbing book shows that myths originally transmitted real information about real events and observations, preserving the information sometimes for millennia within nonliterate societies. Geologists' interpretations of how a volcanic cataclysm long ago created Oregon's Crater Lake, for example, is echoed point for point in the local myth of its origin. The Klamath tribe saw it happen and passed down the story - for nearly 8,000 years. We, however, have been literate for so long that we've forgotten how myths encode reality. Recent studies of how our brains work, applied to a wide range of data from the Pacific Northwest to ancient Egypt to modern stories reported in newspapers, have helped the Barbers deduce the characteristic principles by which such tales both develop and degrade through time. Myth is in fact a quite reasonable way to convey important messages orally over many generations - although reasoning back to the original events is possible only under rather specific conditions.

Our oldest written records date to 5,200 years ago, but we have been speaking and mythmaking for perhaps 100,000. This groundbreaking book points the way to restoring some of that lost history and teaching us about human storytelling. The book is published by Princeton University Press.

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Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Rebecca | 12/2/2013

    " Loved this, but found the ending poor. It didn't feel like it was the end, like pages were missing. Also, the charts/images were really hard to see in the kindle version. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Richard | 10/2/2013

    " I just finished this book. It is a great read. Everyone should have this book in their bookshelf as a "read" book that they can handily pull out as a reference. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by J Bussey | 6/23/2013

    " Fascinating stuff. Interpreting ancient myths and legends in the light of human cognition. Will have to re-read at some point to make sure that I've digested it all. I especially loved the part about dragons, and about Crater lake. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Jossalyn | 5/3/2012

    " Betchen Wayland Barber is a Westridge alum, who-turns out- is the world authority on pre-historic textiles (read her bibio!). this one was very interesting, but i think i liked 20,000 years of women's work better... very diff. topics, so hard to say. but westridge does make for interesting women! "

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