Myth. Its Meaning and Functions in Ancient and Other Cultures.
Cambridge at the University Press, Cambridge / University of California Press, Berkeley/Los Angeles, 1983. Reprint 1st paperback ed. 299p. Sather Classical Lectures 40. Paperback. Pages a bit yellowed. Signature on half title.
'One of the most refreshing and stimulating features of this book is its readiness to explore and correlate the mythologies of this area and others, and indeed to face up to the total human experience in relation to myth. (...) If the discussion of the qualities of Greek myths makes rather more humdrum reading, for the most part, it contains a useful analysis of 'common themes' and basic concerns'. Hesiod is impressively dealt with; so is the passage from mythical to rational thought, with the suggestion that 'mythology had provided a conceptual language, long before Hesiod'. In the final chapter on the meaning of myth in general primacy is given to the role of fantasy and dreams; it was Otto Rank in 1907 it appears, who first formulated the idea that in 'some sense myths are the dream-thinking of the people'. Kirk's own formulation is more complex: he thinks that the narrative and functional aspects of myths tended to develop side by side, While 'some dreams and myths imply a degree of interdependence', such elements and others could ento into a longer process of moulding the narrative material. This is an instructive disc ussion which fully deploys the theories Cassirer, Freud and others. Towards the end Kirk wisely admits that there may be 'a concern with the supernatural for its own sake' and that myths 'incorporate elements of religion itself.' It would be wiser still to recognize this as the 'fons et origo' of mythology. Primitive religion is permeated with magic, and, (...) magic is itself fanatastic'. The processes by which this primal impetus expresses itself are, at the same time, well worth exploring, especially when the element of fantasy, as often happens, comes to represent a cherished reality; and to such exploration this book is a refreshing contribution.' (J. GWYN GRIFFITHS in The Cambridge Classical Review (New Series), 1972, pp.235-38).