Literature and Film as Modern Mythology

Literature and Film as Modern Mythology

Literature and Film as Modern Mythology

Literature and Film as Modern Mythology

Synopsis

Novels and films record and codify the cultural experiences of their people. This book explores the relationship between contemporary literature and film of the past fifty years and the ancient myths of Judeo-Christian, Greek, Celtic, and Eastern origin. Following a detailed description and explanation of both literary and film devices, stories that conform to a mythic tradition are analyzed to identify what they reveal about modern culture. This work explores such diverse subjects as heroism, coming of age, and morality. This approach to literature and film explores how contemporary fiction and film fulfill a continuum in our never-ending search to understand how life ought to be lived.

Excerpt

Myth comes from the French language, which took the word from the Latin root mythus, derived from the Greek word muthos, and is defined in all three languages as a narrative, a fable, or a myth (Partridge 424). Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary defines myth as "1: A traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon. 2: parable, allegory. 3 a: a person or thing having only an imaginary or unverifiable existence, b: an ill-founded belief held uncritically especially by an interested group. 4: the whole body of myths" (755).

Mythology books, depending on the background, belief system, or approach of the writer, will vary the definition using one or more of the following perspectives: myths are (1) a fanciful and entertaining verbalization of tribal superstition; (2) the literal translation of a ritual or the creative story enabling a ritual; (3) the transcendental creation of a primordial archetype by the subconscious mind; or (4) a poetic/metaphoric explanation of an objective reality. This diversity in application stems from the variety of disciplines that study myth. Anthropologists, paleontologists, mythologists, historians, theologians, archaeologists, psychologists, and literary scholars all have an interest in the study of myths.

One fact upon which all agree on is that ancient Sumerians developed written language around 3000 B.C.E. and left some of their myths, which date from at least 2500 B.C.E. These myths are known as the Enuma Elish, or "The Epic of Gilgamesh." It is also known that long before the time of written language, in dark caves and around tribal fires, primitive people . . .

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