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Here the most important, most popular, and most curious legends from each of the five continents, and from sophisticated and primitive cultures alike, have been chosen by thirty-four experts. These writers relate the cultural context of each legend. The authors also describe the effects these stories had on the people who first heard them, and they trace, where appropriate, the legends' distant origins in recorded events and characters. A comparative survey charts the recurring themes and motifs, providing a fascinating view of how the same legend, with minor variations, appears in many different parts of the world.