Myth and Mythmaking

Myth and Mythmaking

Myth and Mythmaking

Myth and Mythmaking

Excerpt

To explain how it came about that a rank amateur in the domain of myth should be introducing this select assemblage of papers by eminent professionals is to describe, by way of apology for his presence here, the conditions of the bringing forth of these illuminations of one of the darkest of all fields of inquiry.

Assignment to my present role came as the last move in an inescapable, fateful chain of interactions set off two years ago by my reluctant-rash consent to act as chairman of a small committee to organize a preliminary symposium on myth under the auspices of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Already I had reached the point of no retreat, for somebody, of course, had to play the part of chargé d'affaires at the symposium itself which, with the support of the Carnegie Corporation, took place at the House of the Academy in May, 1958. The lively and abundant exchanges of facts, speculations, and opinions generated by the addresses delivered at that meeting settled the question of publication in the Journal of the Academy, and this, according to custom, meant that somebody had to serve as guest editor under Mr. Holton, editor-in-chief. The result was the 1959 Spring issue of Daedalus, entitled "Myth and Mythmaking," which was composed of four provocative papers prepared for the 1958 symposium (those by Messrs. Bruner, Kluckhohn, Levin, and McLuhan), six most welcome additional contributions (those of Messrs. Campbell, Dorson, Eliade, Lytle, Topitsch, and Wolff) --of which some were specially requested and some vouchsafed the editors by a timely providence--and then, for dessert, four . . .

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