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First published in English in 1954, this founding work of the history of religions secured the North American reputation of the Romanian émigré-scholar Mircea Eliade. Making reference to an astonishing number of cultures and drawing on scholarship published in no fewer than half a dozen European languages, The Myth of the Eternal Return illuminates the religious beliefs and rituals of a wide variety of archaic religious cultures. While acknowledging that a return to their practices is impossible, Eliade passionately insists on the value of understanding their views to enrich the contemporary imagination of what it is to be human. This book includes an introduction from Jonathan Z. Smith that provides essential context and encourages readers to engage in an informed way with this classic text.
This book was included on Joseph Campbell’s Sarah Lawrence Reading List – and no surprise. According to Campbell,
My idea of a top scholar in this field is Mircea Eliade at the University of Chicago. He is magnificent. I don’t know how much influence he has on young people. His address is more to the scholarly community. I feel almost that he and I are standing in the same place back to back, I facing a popular community and he the academic community. He has enormous respect in the academic world. And properly so.”
(from “Seventy Years of Making Connections,” an interview with D.J.R. Bruckner for the New York Times after completion of The Masks of God).
tie-dyed teller of tales
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