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Mythology
Robin_Hood_and_Little_John (76K)

Robin Hood duels Little John atop a log bridge in Sherwood Forest

Thor_vs_Giants (45K)

Thor, the Norse god of thunder, battles the Frost Giants

What is mythology? Why, it's fantasy fiction. Fantasy with a very old pedigree, of course ... but still fantasy. Forget what the cynics tell you; the real oldest profession in human society is storytelling. From time immemorial humans have been talespinners. Their ancient art is preserved today in the types of stories called mythology, folktales, and fairy tales. These are stories that have stood the test of time, and usually for very good reason. They tend to touch something very basic to our psyche. It can be hard to tell where one type ends and another begins; at the fringes, they sort of shade into one another.

Mythology from around the world

Mythology is usually used to refer to ancient religious stories, tales of gods, goddesses, spirits, and demons. BULFINCH'S MYTHOLOGY is a classic reference work on mythology. Written by Professor Thomas Bulfinch in the mid-1800s, it remains one of the best sources for Greek, Roman, Norse, and European myths and legends. I have a number of other books that cover other mythologies from around the world:

  • AFRICAN MYTHOLOGY
    Author: Knappert, Jan
    Copyright:1990
    Publisher: Diamond Books
    ISBN: 0-261-66653-3

  • ALGONQUIN LEGENDS
    Author: Leland, Charles
    Copyright:1992
    Publisher: Dover Books
    ISBN: 0-486-26944-2
    A collection of myths and legends from the Algonquin tribe of northeastern North America. Reprint of a book first published in 1884
  • AMERICAN INDIAN TRICKSTER TALES
    Author: Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz
    Copyright:1998
    Publisher: Penguin Books
    ISBN: 0-14-027771-4

  • BABYLONIAN GENESIS, THE
    Author: Heidel, Alexander
    Copyright:1951
    Publisher: Univ of Chicago Press
    ISBN: 0-226-32399-4

  • BOOK OF THE HOPI
    Author: Waters, Frank
    Copyright:1963
    Publisher: Penguin Books
    ISBN: 0-14-004527-9

  • BULFINCH'S MYTHOLOGY
    Author: Bulfinch, Thomas
    Copyright:1979
    Publisher: Gramercy Books
    ISBN: 0-517-27415-9
    Reprint of Professor Thomas Bulfinch's classic 19th-century studies of Greek, Roman, and Chivalric myths.
  • CELTIC MYTHS AND LEGENDS
    Author: Rolleston, T.W.
    Copyright:1990
    Publisher: Dover Books
    ISBN: 0-486-26507-2

  • COYOTE STORIES
    Author: Mourning Dove
    Copyright:1990
    Publisher: Univ of Nebraska Press
    ISBN: 0-8032-8169-2
    Coyote is the Amerind version of the Trickster figure: smart, cunning, powerful, sexual, sometimes malicious, and never quite what he seems. Sometimes he's the perpetrator of jokes; other times, the joke's on him.
  • CREATION MYTHS OF AMERICA
    Author: Curtin, Jeremiah
    Copyright:1995
    Publisher: Bracken Books
    ISBN: 1-85891-265-2
    Reprint of a book first published in 1899.
  • HAWAIIAN MYTHOLOGY
    Author: beckwith, Martha
    Copyright:1970
    Publisher: Univ. of Hawaii
    ISBN: 0-8248-0514-3

  • MYTHS OF THE NORTH AMERICAN INDIANS
    Author: Spence, Lewis
    Copyright:1994
    Publisher: Gramercy Books
    ISBN: 0-517-10158-0

  • NORSE MYTHS, THE
    Author: Crossley-Holland, Kevin
    Copyright:1980
    Publisher: Pantheon Books
    ISBN: 0-394-74846-8

  • ORIGINS: Creation Texts from the Ancient Mediterranean
    Author: Charles Doria & Harris Lenowitz
    Copyright:1976
    Publisher: Anchor Press
    ISBN: 0-385-01922-X

  • PACIFIC MYTHOLOGY
    Author: Knappert, Jan
    Copyright:1992
    Publisher: Diamond Books
    ISBN: 0-261-66655-X

  • PRIMAL MYTHS: Creation Myths from Around the World
    Author: Sproul, Barbara C.
    Copyright:1979
    Publisher: Harper
    ISBN: 0-06-067501-2

  • RELIGIONS OF THE AMERICAN INDIANS
    Author: Hultkranz, Ake
    Copyright:1967
    Publisher: Univ of California Press
    ISBN: 0-520-04239-5

  • STORIES FROM THE SIX WORLDS: MICMAC LEGENDS
    Author: Whitehead, Ruth Holmes
    Copyright:1988
    Publisher: Nimbus Publishing
    ISBN: 0-921054-14-9

  • VOICES OF THE WINDS: NATIVE AMERICAN LEGENDS
    Author: Edmonds & Clark
    Copyright:1989
    Publisher: Facts on File
    ISBN: 0-8160-2067-1

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Märchen from many lands

Märchen is the German word for what English calls "fairy tales." Our modern culture tends to write off fairy tales as "kid stuff," but they wouldn't have survived this long if they were only for kids. They are storystuff distilled down to its essence: short, sharp, and speaking directly to your subconscious. They're archetypes of the most direct sort, and besides being ripping good yarns, they're of great interest to anyone who studies ancient cultures. The same themes tend to turn up over and over again, in tales from many different cultures. They also migrate from one culture to another, mutating as they go. Watching how they change can tell you a lot about a culture and its background, and also its contacts with other cultures.

  • 'THE KING OF THE CATS' AND OTHER FELINE FAIRY TALES
    Author: Stephens, John Richard (ed.)
    Copyright:1993
    Publisher: Faber & Faber
    ISBN: 0-571-19827-9
    A collection of fairy tales about cats.
  • 'THE SLEEPING BEAUTY' AND OTHER CLASSIC FRENCH FAIRY TALES
    Author: Perrault and d'Autnoy
    Copyright:1991
    Publisher: Dilithium Press
    ISBN: 0-517-03706-8
    A collection of classic French fairy tales, including 'The Sleeping Beauty' and 'Beauty and the Beast'.
  • BOOK OF FABULOUS BEASTS, THE
    Author: Nigg, Joseph
    Copyright:1999
    Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press
    ISBN: 0-19-509561-8

  • COMPLETE FAIRY TALES OF THE BROTHERS GRIMM, THE
    Author: Zipes, Jack (ed.)
    Copyright:1987
    Publisher: Bantam Books
    ISBN: 0-553-05184-9
    Complete translation from German of the Grimms' Fairy Tales.
  • COMPLETE HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN FAIRY TALES, THE
    Author: Owens, Lily
    Copyright:1984
    Publisher: Gramercy Books
    ISBN: 0-517-33632-4
    Complete English translation of Andersen's collected fairy tales. Sometimes I think Andersen was chronically depressed, because most of his stories are quite dark and depressing.
  • FABER BOOK OF FAVOURITE FAIRY TALES, THE
    Author: Corrin, Sara & Stephen (ed.)
    Copyright:1988
    Publisher: Faber & Faber
    ISBN: 0-571-14854-9
    Collection of traditional fairy tales.
  • THE THOUSAND NIGHTS AND ONE NIGHT
    Author: Mardrus & Mathers
    Copyright:1989
    Publisher: Routledge
    ISBN: 0-415-04543-6
    Complete English text of THE THOUSAND NIGHTS AND A NIGHT in four-volume boxed set, translated from Arabic to French by Dr. J. C. Mardrus, then from French to English by Powys Mathers.
  • THOMAS THE RHYMER
    Author: Kushner, Ellen
    Copyright:1990
    Publisher: Tor Books
    ISBN: 0-812-51445-9
    A modern retelling of the Scottish fairy tale of Thomas of Ercildoune, a.k.a. "True Tom" or Thomas the Rhymer.

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Folk tales

Folktales are much like fairy tales, but they have fewer or no fantastic elements to them. However, like fairy tales they tend to travel, and to change as they travel. They may or may not be based on real events or people. The many and varied stories of Robin Hood are a good example.

  • BLACKFOOT LODGE TALES: The Story of a Prairie People
    Author: Grinnell, George Bird
    Copyright:1962
    Publisher: Univ of Nebraska Press
    ISBN: 0-8032-5079-7

  • FOLKTALES OF THE NORTH AMERICAN INDIAN
    Author: Various
    Copyright:1990
    Publisher: Senate Press
    ISBN: 1-85958-175-7

  • GIFT OF THE GILA MONSTER, THE: Navajo Ceremonial Tales
    Author: Hausman, Gerald
    Copyright:1993
    Publisher: Touchstone
    ISBN: 0-671-76811-5

  • MERRY ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, THE
    Author: Pyle, Howard
    Copyright:1952
    Publisher: Grossett & Dunlap
    ISBN: 0-448-05820-0
    Howard Pyle's classic version of the stories of Robin Hood. First published in the late 1800s; reprinted many times since then. All the glory and humor of Robin Hood is here, with many excellent paintings for illustration.
  • NAVAHO FOLK TALES
    Author: Newcomb, Franc Johnson
    Copyright:1967
    Publisher: Univ of New Mexico Press
    ISBN: 0-8263-1231-4

  • ROBIN HOOD
    Author: Rhead, Louis
    Copyright:1987
    Publisher: dilithium Press
    ISBN: 0-517-67129-8
    Louis Rhead's version of the tales of Robin Hood, written in the late 1800s.
  • SCOTTISH FOLKTALES, The Penguin Book of
    Author: Philip, Neil (editor)
    Copyright:1995
    Publisher: Penguin Books
    ISBN: 0-14-013977-X

  • SCOTTISH LORE AND FOLKLORE: A Selection of Poetry, Rhymes, Tales, and Prose
    Author: Douglas, Ronald MacDonald
    Copyright:1982
    Publisher: Crown Publishers
    ISBN: 0-517-03759-9
    A collection of poetry, legends, fact and fiction about Scotland.
  • STORYTELLING STONE, THE
    Author: Feldmann, Susan
    Copyright:1965
    Publisher: Dell Books
    ISBN: 0-440-38314-5
    A collection of stories from Amerind cultures.
  • TREASURY OF IRISH FOLKLORE, A
    Author: Colum, Padraic (editor)
    Copyright:1982
    Publisher: Wings Books
    ISBN: 0-517-42046-5
    A collection of stories, traditions, legends, humor, wisdom, ballads, and songs of the Irish people.
  • WORLD'S GREAT FOLKTALES, THE
    Author: Foster, James R. (ed.)
    Copyright:1955
    Publisher: Galahad Books
    ISBN: 0-88365-883-6
    Collection of 172 famous folktales from around the world.

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Mythopoeic fantasy

Mythopoeic (myth-flavored) fantasy is modern fantasy in the spirit of myth, or based on myth, or inventing new myths for modern times. Perhaps the best-known example is J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth. However, many other authors have tried their hands at it. Some have written updated versions of classic fairy tales; others write new stories in the classic märchen style.

  • BEAUTY
    Author: McKinley, Robin
    Copyright:1978
    Publisher: Pocket
    ISBN: 0-671-60434-1
    A new[er] version of the classic French fairy tale 'Beauty and the Beast.' Borrows elements from several of the classic versions and adds a few new ones.
  • DEERSKIN
    Author: McKinley, Robin
    Copyright:1993
    Publisher: Ace Books
    ISBN: 0-441-00069-X
    A mythic-fantasy tale based on 'Peau d'ane' ('Donkeyskin'), by the 18th-century French fairy-tale collector and writer Charles Perrault. A VERY good story, but also VERY dark, exploring both the best and the worst of what humans are capable of.
  • HOLLOWING, THE
    Author: Holdstock, Robert
    Copyright:1993
    Publisher: Roc
    ISBN: 0-451-45356-5

  • JACK OF KINROWAN
    Author: De Lint, Charles
    Copyright:1990
    Publisher: Tor Books
    ISBN: 0-812-53898-6
    An omnibus of two "urban fantasy" stories, Jack the Giant Killer and Drink Down the Moon, both starring Jacky Rowan and a collection of entities from Celtic mythology.
  • LAVONDYSS
    Author: Holdstock, Robert
    Copyright:1988
    Publisher: Avon
    ISBN: 0-380-71184-2

  • MYTHAGO WOOD
    Author: Holdstock, Robert
    Copyright:1984
    Publisher: Berkley
    ISBN: 0-425-08785-9
    Ryhope Wood is a strange place ... larger inside than outside, and populated by figures out of humanity's entire history of myth, legend, and fantasy. The deeper you go, the older -- and more dangerous -- are the things you meet. Mythago Wood is the first of several stories that Robert Holdstock set in and around Ryhope Wood.
  • NIGHTINGALE, THE
    Author: Dalkey, Kara
    Copyright:1988
    Publisher: Ace Books
    ISBN: 0-441-57446-7

  • SECRET COUNTRY, THE
    Author: Dean, Pamela
    Copyright:1985
    Publisher: Ace Books
    ISBN: 0-441-75739-1

  • SNOW WHITE AND ROSE RED
    Author: Wrede, Patricia
    Copyright:1989
    Publisher: Tor Books
    ISBN: 0-812-53497-2
    A novelization of the Grimms' fairy tale of the same name, considerably lengthened and made more complex by the addition of several figures from English history, such as Elizabeth I's court mystic John Dee.
  • TAM LIN
    Author: Dean, Pamela
    Copyright:1991
    Publisher: Tor Books
    ISBN: 0-812-54450-1
    A retelling of the fairy tale 'Tam Lin' in a modern setting. Janet Carter is a student at Blackstock College in Minnesota, during the early 1970s. She isn't there very long before she begins to notice something ... strange about some of the other students. They don't seem very up-to-date, they often talk in what sounds like Shakespeare quotations, and they have an almost medieval relationship with the head of the college's Literature Department, Professor Medeous.

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