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Celtic / Norse / Persian / Mesopotamian myths

Celtic Myths * Miranda Jane Aldhouse-Green * isbn 0292727542 * 1994
Norse Myths * Raymond Ian Page * isbn 0292755465 * 1991
Persian Myths * Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis * isbn 0292711581 * 1993
Mesopotamian Myths * Henrietta McCall * isbn 0292751303 * 1991

Speaking of inflation. The first owner of these booklets bought Dutch translations in september 1996 for Æ’ 5,- each (a ticket is still in one of the books). 9 Years later, I pay € 5,- (euro) for every book second hand! That is 2,20371 times as much and that for second hand copies…

But the books have hardly been opened, they didn’t turn yellow, there are no stains in it and on first sight they seemed interesting enough to me to buy, even while every book is only about 80 pages. Because I thought this was a complete series, I bought them all. Now I see that there are at least two more about Egyptian and Greek myths. Oh well.

I was mostly interested in the book of Miranda Green. Green has written quite a few books about the Celts. I was certain that I had at least one book of hers, but apparently I don’t. I probably had one in my hand some time and for some reason decided to not buy it (yet). I started these series with her wonderfull book Celtic Myths. The book first says where our information comes from, then explains the difference between Irish and Welsh mythology and texts and in the rest of the book, keeps these two apart. I loved reading her rewritten tales and myths with explanations throughout. Green makes you familiar with the main characters, gods, styles of writing, texts, etc. in a very easy-to-read fashion. The book speaks about both mythological as historical subjects which makes this book a marvelous insight in the world of the Celts, especially for ‘beginners’ but also for those who have already read some more. There is an index and a short bibliography to makes this book complete.

As those of you who follow closely know, I am currently reading mostly about Norse Myths. The booklet of Page is a bit disappointing. Maybe I already dug too deep in the subject, but this book is very superficial and not too good. Maybe it can serve as a first introduction, but nothing more.

Persian Myths is a subject I am not totally unfamiliar with, but I am certainly no expert. Exactly a year ago I reviewed another book about Persian mythology and also I have some Zoroastrian literature. Just like The Wise Lord Of The Sky (reviewed elsewhere) this booklet is mostly about the pre-Zoroastrian Persia (nowadays Iran). Curtis re-tells tales and myths and while doing this you become familiar with the most important deities, characters, etc. It is a nice book to have on the bookshell, also because there is an index and a bibliography and the book itself is definately worth a read.

Mesopotamian Myths keep appealing to the Western mind. They sure are fascinating, partly because of the fact that the Mesopotamian culture (5000 years ago) was one of the earliest ‘high civilisations’ and it had a vast influence on our own culture and literature. McCall wrote a very historical book, much more than the other three books above. A large part of the book is dedicated to the descriptions of who found what text when and in what condition. Also there is a table what tablets were found where, if the same texts were found somewhere else too, when they were written, how large they are, etc. Just like in the other books in these series, McCall retells the myths and tales thus making you familiar with heroes, semi-gods, gods, etc. Wonderfull are the stories about rebellious gods, the great flood, goddesses falling in love with humans and over and over again reminding of stories familiar to us in another way. A very nice book to read.

All four booklets come with black and white photos, maps and images. A nice set to have on the bookshelf and to use to look something up quickly. I am happy about the quality of the Celtic, Persian and Mesopotamian books, but I don’t know if it is just the Norse book that is of less quality or that the same will be said about the others by people who are well informed about those mythologies. I also have more literature about the Celts, but I still love the book of Green, so the disappointment about the Norse Myths may probably just be due to the writer. <26/9/05>

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