Critical Survey of Mythology and Folklore: Gods & Goddesses

Salem. Jan. 2019. 1048p. ed. by . illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781642651157. $295. REF
Assisted by 24 contributors, writer and editor Shally-Jensen addresses mythologies throughout much of the globe and history, placing avatars of the divine in their cultural context. Entries succinctly tackle the belief systems of Greek and Roman, Norse, Egyptian, and Native American civilizations, among others, covering each deity's myth, cult, popular culture (sometimes), and pronunciation (occasionally) and offer further reading. Identifying ten world regions, sections feature local "Sacred Places, Figures, Practices & Texts"; associated "Selected Stories" summarize the plots and analyze the significance of 100 influential tales in clear, brisk prose. Scholarly overview essays discuss religion, literature, theater, priestly life, and folklore for each area. Christian and Jewish scriptures are treated under Rome and the Near East respectively; Allah, Yahweh, and Jesus Christ each have an entry, as do Mahavira, Orisha, Brigid, and Viracocha, among many others. There are multiple indexes (e.g., civilizations, creation stories) but no unified index or cross-references. Occasional text boxes, bibliographies by region, a lesson plan, and discussion of mythology expand the volumes' reach. The 12 maps are blurry and lack legends, but there are black-and-white images, with captions of varying utility, throughout. Despite some overlap with The Facts on File Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, this work is sufficiently different (more in-depth, less American-centric) that libraries might want both.
VERDICT Readers will find the well-organized, contextualized, wide-ranging coverage here convenient and accessible, with many leads to additional research.

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