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▶  More from Blog A Well of Heroes
‘A Mythological Index’
A Man Question from Trevor


“James, I have been following A Well of Heroes and have just gotten into He, your exposition of Gilgamesh. I never imagined that a bookish look at he-man adventure stories could be so fascinating. I gather that your impressions are based on a primary reading list. Could you please publish that list so that I can work on developing my own prying eye into the past?”

PS: Please, split these into treasures and keys.

-Trevor

Back in 2010 about 200 books on myth and religion were dumped in a landfill for lack of ability to transport them when I moved into ghetto accommodations cheap enough to permit this literary pursuit. Thanks to recent donations to the site I have replaced most of the treasures. Most of the keys I retained.

Key Texts, In the Order They Should be Read

1. The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell

2. Myth, Edith Hamilton

3. The Seekers, Daniel J. Boorstin

4. A Dictionary of Symbols by J. E. Cirlot

5. Transformations of Myth Through Time, Joseph Campbell

6. Flight of the Wild Gander, Campbell

7. The Way of the Animal Powers [ 2 volumes], Campbell [editor]

8. The Way of the Seeded Earth [3 volumes], Campbell [editor]

9. Hero with a Thousand Faces, Campbell

Treasures, in the Order Written

Although modern compilations [indicated by an *] were edited in modern times, I have attempted to represent the relative antiquity of the ancient material according to this scheme. Items 2-7 were virtually written in the same era between 1,000 and 500 B.C. Biblical nerds continue to dispute composition dates, and honestly, I am convinced that much of this material [particularly Genesis and the Homeric myths in which the Trojan epic [dated at 1200 B.C.] was framed, existed in oral form for hundreds, or perhaps thousands of years before being written, and were probably contemporaneous with the earliest telling of Gilgamesh, perhaps as early as 3,000 B.C.

1. Gilgamesh

2. The Iliad, Homer

3. The Odyssey, Homer?

4. The First Poets, Michael Schmidt *

5. Genesis [Old Testament]

6. Judges [Old Testament]

7. Gods and Heroes of Ancient Greece, Gustav Schwab *

8. Acts and Psalms [New Testament]

9. Myths of the Norsemen, Helene A. Guerber *

10. Beowulf

11. The Song of Roland

12. A Treasury of Irish Fairy and Folk Tales, Barnes & Noble *

13. Tales from the Arabian Nights, Richard F. Burton *

14. Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales, B & N *

15. Hans Christian Andersen Classic Fairy Tales, B & N *

16. Mystic Warriors of the Plains, T. E. Mails *

Note

In terms of Howard, I have been negligent in not reading Bulfinch’s Mythology. However, with limited funds, and having in my possession far better ancient Greek sources than Bulfinch [for his work covered the western mythic experience from ancient Greece to the Arthurian cycle and the Norse sagas], and the fact that I am engaged in a mythic impression, not a bibliographical one, I decided against using my Barnes & Noble gift card on Bulfinch and instead purchased the Irish Fairy Tales and Norse Myths collections cited above.

Add Comment
Sam J.June 2, 2016 7:27 AM UTC

I saw you listed Grim's Fairy tales. Another good set of tales is the Jack Tales. Like the Jack and the Giant.

http://www.ibiblio.org/bawdy/folklore/tales.html

Br'er Rabbit

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Br'er_Rabbit

"AEsop's fables" are good too.

https://archive.org/details/aesopsfables00aesorich

All these tales have meaning to them. Mostly short.

"ILLUSIONS The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah" by Richard Bach

http://www3.cs.stonybrook.edu/~ppenumarthi/illusions.pdf

Bach also wrote "Jonathon Livingston Seagull". I met him once my Dad knew him.