Splitting the Difference: Gender and Myth in Ancient Greece and India / Edition 1

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Overview

Hindu and Greek mythologies teem with stories of women and men who are doubled, who double themselves, who are seduced by gods doubling as mortals, whose bodies are split or divided. In Splitting the Difference, the renowned scholar of mythology Wendy Doniger recounts and compares a vast range of these tales from ancient Greece and India, with occasional recourse to more recent "double features" from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to Face/Off.

Myth, Doniger argues, responds to the complexities of the human condition by multiplying or splitting its characters into unequal parts, and these sloughed and cloven selves animate mythology's prodigious plots of sexuality and mortality. Doniger's comparisons show that ultimately differences in gender are more significant than differences in culture; Greek and Indian stories of doubled women resemble each other more than they do tales of doubled men in the same culture. In casting Hindu and Greek mythologies as shadows of each f other, Doniger shows that culture is sometimes but the shadow of gender.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Doniger, a distinguished professor of the history of religion at the University of Chicago and author of several previous studies of mythology, has written a perceptive and compelling new book on gendered themes in classical Greek and Hindu mythology. But while her comparative focus is on tales from those two cultures and eras, her insights extend to later cultural stories and contemporary variations on ancient themes. Each chapter examines an aspect of the doubling or splitting of women, and sometimes men, and the cultural and mythic functions of such divisions. While the stories are inflected by both gender and culture, Doniger concludes that gender is more significant in determining the relationships between the myths. Throughout, she interprets the stories, old and new, in terms of fundamental aspects of the human psyche, illuminating the ways in which "myth responds to complexities of the human condition." Well written and engaging, this book should appeal to specialists and generalists alike.--Julia Burch, Cambridge, MA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226156415
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 4/15/1999
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 383
  • Sales rank: 1,074,240
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Wendy Doniger is the Mircea Eliade Professor of the History of Religions in the Divinity School and a professor in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations and the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. She is the author of numerous books, including, most recently, The Woman Who Pretended to Be Who She Was.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Prelude: Comparing Texts Comparing People 1
1 The Shadow Sita and the Phantom Helen 8
2 Indra and Ahalya, Zeus and Alcmena 88
3 Nala and Damayanti, Odysseus and Penelope 133
4 Mariatale/Renuka and Scylla/Charybdis 204
5 Transposed Male Heads and Tales 232
6 Bisexual Transformations 260
Postlude: The Shadow of Gender 303
Notes 311
Bibliography 339
Index 359
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