Thursday, May 15, 2014
Title: The Universe, the Gods, and Men: Ancient Greek Myths
By: Jean-Pierre Vernant
Vernant, a Classics professor, used to tell his grandson Greek legends as bedtime stories—and he'd really tell them, not read them. He also told some of the same stories, in the same fashion, to friends who forced him to promise to write down what he'd told them. To Vernant, the oral roots of myth are one of the things that separate myth from written narrative, and he was reluctant to remove the little variations and nuances that made oral storytelling so enjoyable. But he kept his promise to his friends, and thus a wider audience can enjoy the stories in The Universe, the Gods, and Men.
The myths—ranging from the start of the universe to heroes such as Perseus—are retold faithfully in terms of essential plot, but Vernant's style and voice are unique. As he tells the myths, he gracefully explains his understanding of the ideas and worldviews behind them, giving the reader/would-be-listener an added layer of appreciation without detracting from the flow of the tale. Whether you've read multiple versions of the Greek myths before, or never read them at all, Vernant is both entertaining and insightful.
View similarly tagged posts: non-fiction