The Implied Spider: Politics and Theology in Myth

Overview

Wendy Doniger's foundational study is both modern in its engagement with a diverse range of religions and refreshingly classic in its transhistorical, cross-cultural approach. By responsibly analyzing patterns and themes across context, Doniger reinvigorates the comparative reading of religion while tapping into a wealth of narrative traditions, from the instructive tales of Judaism and Christianity to the moral lessons of the Bhagavad Gita. She extracts political meaning from a variety of texts while respecting ...

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The Implied Spider Updated with a New Preface

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Overview

Wendy Doniger's foundational study is both modern in its engagement with a diverse range of religions and refreshingly classic in its transhistorical, cross-cultural approach. By responsibly analyzing patterns and themes across context, Doniger reinvigorates the comparative reading of religion while tapping into a wealth of narrative traditions, from the instructive tales of Judaism and Christianity to the moral lessons of the Bhagavad Gita. She extracts political meaning from a variety of texts while respecting the original ideas of each. A new preface confronts the difficulty of contextualizing the comparison of religions as well as controversies over choosing subjects and positioning arguments, and the text itself is expanded and updated throughout.

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Editorial Reviews

Parabola
An entertaining and highly accesible look at how myths reveal what is common to all humanity.
Bruce Lawrence
In these creative, often dazzling displays of erudition and insight, Wendy Doniger gives a ceaselessly engaged and always subject-filled view of myth. Another gem in the string of gems that mark Doniger's scholarly productivity.
Alwyn Marriage
This is a racy, enjoyable book. . . . Deriving from Plato an understanding of myth as both truth and lie, Wendy Doniger brings to her study a wealth of story and folklore from many different traditions, exploring creatively the enduring role of myth through time and across cultures.
Margaret Anne Doody
A timely meditation on what comparative studies might mean. . . . The Implied Spider wrestles with the problems of carrying out the kind of study represented by Splitting the Difference -a cross-cultural comparison of different stories from different areas of the world, different tribes, different languages.
J.E. Llewellyn
The Implied Spider is a book that is particularly worthy of the attention of readers in religious studies beyond the history of religions.
Library Journal
Doniger here offers an introduction to comparative mythology. By analyzing the political, theological, and psychological structures of the sacred stories of various cultures through time, from the Hebrew Bible to "Star Trek," Doniger shows how myths create a shared interdisciplinary narrative of all human cultures. She also argues that sorting out the feminine voice in this male-dominated art supplements our fragmented understanding of myths. Ultimately, Doniger shows that myths are a means of transcending daily life. Ranging widely, she offers a detailed, scholarly account that may not be easy reading for genreral audiences, however intriguing her premise. -- Leo Vincent Kriz, West Des Moines Library, Iowa
Library Journal
Doniger here offers an introduction to comparative mythology. By analyzing the political, theological, and psychological structures of the sacred stories of various cultures through time, from the Hebrew Bible to "Star Trek," Doniger shows how myths create a shared interdisciplinary narrative of all human cultures. She also argues that sorting out the feminine voice in this male-dominated art supplements our fragmented understanding of myths. Ultimately, Doniger shows that myths are a means of transcending daily life. Ranging widely, she offers a detailed, scholarly account that may not be easy reading for genreral audiences, however intriguing her premise. -- Leo Vincent Kriz, West Des Moines Library, Iowa
Booknews
This study analyzes and compares mythologies from different cultures, arguing for myth as an expression of the universality of human experience, without ignoring the distinctive elements of each cultural source. In doing so, Doniger (U. of Chicago, religion) seeks to rescue comparative mythology from its postcolonial and postmodern critics and their charges of irrelevance and/or political incorrectness. In addition to historical myths, Doniger also considers classical literature and popular culture as repositories of myth.
London Review of Books

A timely meditation on what comparative studies might mean... a cross-cultural comparison of different stories from different areas of the world, different tribes, different languages.

Theological Book Review

A racy, enjoyable book.... Wendy Doniger brings to her study a wealth of story and folklore from many different traditions, exploring creatively the enduring role of myth through time and across cultures.

Parabola

An entertaining and highly accessible look at how myths reveal what is common to all humanity.

Religious Studies Review

A book that is particularly worthy of the attention of readers in religious studies beyond the history of religions. Since it is Wendy Doniger's most methodological book, The Implied Spider is important, not for its analysis of myths, but for the arguments that it makes in support of the comparative study of myths.

Church History

Sparkling with erudite and often entertaining intertextual references, The Implied Spider is an impressive web delicately constructed of deft analysis together with a sustained argument about the myth's ability to convey and conjure the theological and the political. With its challenges to literary theorists, historians, and ethnographers, it takes various bulls by their respective horns. It will doubtless delight and surely provoke readers, whatever their ilk.

Theological Book Review - Alwyn Marriage

This is a racy, enjoyable book.... Deriving from Plato an understanding of myth as both truth and lie, Wendy Doniger brings to her study a wealth of story and folklore from many different traditions, exploring creatively the enduring role of myth through time and across cultures.

Bruce Lawrence

In these creative, often dazzling displays of erudition and insight, Wendy Doniger gives a ceaselessly engaged and always subject-filled view of myth. Another gem in the string of gems that mark Doniger's scholarly productivity.

London Review of Books - Margaret Anne Doody
A timely meditation on what comparative studies might mean.... The Implied Spider wrestles with the problems of carrying out the kind of study represented by Splitting the Difference — a cross-cultural comparison of different stories from different areas of the world, different tribes, different languages.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Wendy Doniger is the Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions in the Divinity School at the University of Chicago. She is also a professor in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations and a member of the university's Committee on Social Thought. Her books include Dreams, Illusion, and Other Realities; Other Peoples' Myths: The Cave of Echoes, and The Bedtrick: Tales of Sex and Masquerade.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Preface to the Updated Edition: Context and History Acknowledgments Introduction: Myth and Metaphor
1. Microscopes and Telescopes
2. Dark Cats, Barking Dogs, Chariots, and Knives
3. Implied Spiders and the Politics of Individualism
4. Micromyths, Macromyths, and Multivocality
5. Mother Goose and the Voices of Women
6. Textual Pluralism and Academic Pluralism Notes Bibliography Index

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