Dictionary of Nature Myths: Legends of the Earth, Sea, and Sky / Edition 1

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Overview

This engaging reference work explores our age-old desire to interpret and control natural phenomena. Without the benefit of science, our ancestors sought to explain forces—such as wind, clouds, earthquakes, and stars—in a manner they believed to be inexorably connected to the will of the gods. Mythology afforded them the means to make sense of the world's seemingly senseless aspects.

The Dictionary of Nature Myths is a unique addition to the mythological literature. It pulls information from a variety of disciplines including archaeology, anthropology, religious studies, astronomy, meteorology, and geology. The book's main subject areas concern natural forces, gods and goddesses of natural forces, terms relating to the myths of natural forces, and broad geographical areas. Within these categories Tamra Andrews groups stories from cultures around the globe, tales of an animated universe moved by supernatural power. Her volume is comprehensive and fully cross-referenced, and it contains a lengthy bibliography and an innovative guide to primary sources. Readers young and old will delight in reading about ABSU, a freshwater ocean that the Mesopotamians believed flowed beneath the earth; about IX CHEL, the Mayan moon and water goddess who controlled floods and rainbows; and about YGGDRASIL, the huge evergreen ash tree of Norse mythology that marked the center of the world. These entries and hundreds more will enchant and inform as they show how and why people from all ages and all cultures found power and magic in the natural world.

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Editorial Reviews

KLIATT
Andrews takes as her central focus the various myths and legends that have sprung up around natural phenomena, and her scope includes "natural forces, gods and goddesses of natural forces, terms relating to the myths of natural forces, and broad geographical areas." The entry for each subject is defined in relationship to natural, non-living phenomena. An appendix identifies sources for the various myths, followed by a thorough bibliography. A cultural index and a subject index, both very useful, round out the book. The entries are meticulously and lucidly written, with plenty of cross-and see references. This title would be a more than worthwhile addition especially to school libraries where mythological studies are featured in the curriculum, but it is suitable for general reference and larger YA collections in public libraries. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1998, Oxford Univ. Press, 284p, 24cm, 99-40342, $16.95. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Donna L. Scanlon; Children's Libn., Lancaster Area Lib., Lancaster, PA, November 2000 (Vol. 34 No. 6)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195136777
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 5/28/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Tamra Andrews is a former university reference librarian who has written professionally about astronomical mythology for the last nine years. She has written for both children and adults, and has been a longtime contributor to "Star Date", the National Public Radio program and magazine produced by the McDonald Observatory at the University of Texas.

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