... one of the richest, clearest, and acutest surveys to date of the course of theorizing about myth from the eighteenth century on. I know of no more useful volume on the topic. Despite the postmodern connotations of the title, Von Hendy is writing not to expose the concept of myth but simply to show the array of ways in which it has been used from time to time and from place to place. A superb work." —Robert A. Segal,
University of Lancaster,
author of Theorizing about Myth
Andrew Von Hendy offers an integrated critical account of the career of myth in modernity. He takes as its starting point some crucial moments in the 18th-century reinvention of the concept and then follows the major branches of theorizing as they appear in the work of theologians, philosophers, literary artists, political thinkers, folklorists, anthropologists, psychologists, and others.
Von Hendy pursues each of these four fundamental strains of theory through the 20th century: the rise of neo-romantic theories in depth psychology, modernist literature, and later in religious phenomenology, philosophy, and literary criticism; the establishment of folkloristic theory in ethnological fieldwork and in classical studies; the growth of ideological theories from Sorel to Barthes and Derrida; and the recent ascent of constitutive theories of myth as necessary fiction. Finally, Von Hendy examines the work of five theorists who attempt to come to terms with the lessons of the ideological critique, yet regard myth as a constructive phenomenon.