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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: myth, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 39
1. Two Interesting Writing Things that Happened to Me this Week

I'm going to write about the second thing first, because it was more recent and I still feel geeked out by it.

I'll be honest - it was sort of a cool/sad moment. I work part-time at a flower shop, which opens at 9:00 a.m. When I got into work, I discovered we had a wire-in order from PUTNAM, CONGRATULATING ONE OF THEIR AUTHORS ON HER BOOK BIRTHDAY!!!! I kid you not, I stared at that sheet for a full minute, thinking how cool that there was an actual traditionally published author IN MY TOWN and that she got signed by a really big publishing house!!
 
The names have been censored to protect the innocent :)
 
I did feel a little sad that I was so far away from that being MY reality.

But, it was cool I got to deliver her flowers!

But, t was sad because she wasn't home so I didn't get to meet her or get a business card or be all like, "Yo, congrats, gurl!"

But, it was cool to see she posted a picture of the flowers on Twitter! :)

Neat, right? 

The other and FIRST cool thing was that I attended a one-day writing workshop. I LOVE going to those things. They are so inspiring. Gets me really pumped up and in the writing groove again.

I have to say, though, that writing conferences contain some of the most introverted attendees in the world! (It is possible other conferences, such as those for actors, singers, musicians, or anything dealing with the artistic side of the brain contain introverts as well, but I have never seen more people less willing to cause a scene in real life than I see at writing conferences.)
http://www.zazzle.com/introverts_unite_separately_in_your_own_homes_poster-228084884269623431


Let me give you one moment from the workshop:

The speaker is giving the opening speech, all crazy-confident and funny. (Obviously, he is experienced. The public speaker in me suffers some serious envy.)
Mid-sentence, the speaker pauses and asks, "Are you looking for a seat?"
All attendees shift in their chairs, and cast surreptitious glances back.
The person in question hunches up like she's trying to disappear into a sweater and waves a don't-worry-about-it-hand. "It's okay, I'm just going to stand in the back."
Speaker:  "There are seats available, if we could get people to point them out?" Questioning glance around the room.
Timorous hands come up, pointing to empty seats. Nearly inaudible voices say, "There's one here."
Person in question sort of drifts to a chair in the back and goes invisible as she settles.
Speaker goes on like nothing happened, while everyone else breathes relieved sighs that THAT awkwardness is over!

And this happened a couple times, not just once. In retrospect, it was super funny, but at the time there was this camaraderie of commiseration at BEING SEEN IN PUBLIC. It was especially bad when people had to leave to attend their 10-minute query pitch. Standing up in a room of people is hard, you guys! So many muttered regrets of "What was I thinking?" and "Should I go now, or wait another minute, since it's still five minutes before I have to pitch?" and "I wish I was sitting in the back! I'll know better next time."

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I had a 10-minute pitch of my own, wherein I verbally pitched my query to a really awesome agent. Like, awesome. She was incredibly nice, and actually seemed to like what I had to say. For a writer, that is just really nice, to get the affirmation that your writing isn't as bad as you sometimes feel it is. (Just so you know, a verbal pitch is WAY harder than a round-table critique. At least with a round-table critique, you have your MS in your hand and you can read the printed word aloud and not really make eye contact with anyone. With a verbal pitch, it's just you tooting the merits of your manuscript, and I think most writers are very precious about their ideas. They cradle them close and don't share. Ever. So, saying, "this is what my story is about" and ENGAGING... is hard.)
https://www.tumblr.com/search/may%20dragon


But one thing I realized during my pitch, and which I think came through most strongly, was my love of world-building.

Guys, I could literally world-build all day and not write a lick of story. I love to figure out why MY world is the way it is (such as someone in the far distant history of a particular world making such an enormous mistake that the hero in the present day now has an issue with adamant), and I love to study how other people sprinkle in backstory and implement that into my novels, so I don't have the ever-present problem of INFO-DUMPING (oh cursed words!) or people scratching their heads and saying, "I don't understand what's going on..."
http://giphy.com/gifs/confused-unimpressed-really-LcYag7ADVGsI8

Also, maps.
My first ever cityscape - be impressed. This was HARD

I love creating the history of my world. I also find it interesting that, for the most part, a lot of fantasies tend to have a sort of creation element. Like, this world exists, and while there may not be a One God figure (mine tend to have those, because that's the way I roll), there is often a strong draw from Roman or Greek myths, folktales, legends, and fairytales. I think it's because fantasy reveals a truth. Myths, legends, and fairytales contain that same kernel of truth.

"Fantasy remains a human right: we make in our measure and in our derivative mode, because we are made: and not only made, but made in the image and likeness of a Maker."

~ J. R. R. TOLKIEN, On Fairy-Stories 
 
To end:
 
What is your favourite fairytale?
What is your favourite fantasy book/series?
Do you prefer Greek or Roman myths? (If you answer other, what's the other myth you prefer?)
Favourite fantasy artist?
What's the coolest thing that's happened to you this year?

God bless!

Cat 
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2. Which mythological creature are you? [Quiz]

Today, we're looking at the less fashionable side of this partnership and focussing our attention on the creatures that mortals feared and heroes vanquished. Does your gaze turn others to stone? Do you prefer ignorance or vengeance? Have any wings? Take this short quiz to find out which mythological creature or being you would have been in the ancient world.

The post Which mythological creature are you? [Quiz] appeared first on OUPblog.

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3. Ten things you may not have known about Greek gods and goddesses

Greek gods and goddesses have been a part of cultural history since ancient times, but how much do you really know about them? You can learn more about these figures from Greek mythology by reading the lesser known facts below and by visiting the newly launched Oxford Classical Dictionary online.

The post Ten things you may not have known about Greek gods and goddesses appeared first on OUPblog.

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4. In defense of myth

I approach myth from the standpoint of theories of myth, or generalizations about the origin, the function, and the subject matter of myth. There are hundreds of theories. They hail from anthropology, sociology, psychology, politics, literature, philosophy, and religious studies.

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5. Before Bram: a timeline of vampire literature

There were many books on vampires before Bram Stoker's Dracula. Early anthropologists wrote accounts of the folkloric vampire -- a stumbling, bloated peasant, never venturing far from home, and easily neutralized with a sexton’s spade and a box of matches. The literary vampire became a highly mobile, svelte aristocratic rake with the appearance of the short tale The Vampyre in 1819.

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6. The death of a friend: Queen Elizabeth I, bereavement, and grief

On 25 February 1603, Queen Elizabeth I’ s cousin and friend - Katherine Howard, the countess of Nottingham - died. Although Katherine had been ill for some time, her death hit the queen very hard; indeed one observer wrote that she took the loss ‘muche more heavyly’ than did Katherine’s husband, the Charles, Earl of Nottingham. The queen’s grief was unsurprising, for Elizabeth had known the countess longer than almost anyone else alive at that time.

The post The death of a friend: Queen Elizabeth I, bereavement, and grief appeared first on OUPblog.

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7. Once upon a time, part 1

I’m writing from Palermo where I’ve been teaching a course on the legacy of Troy. Myths and fairy tales lie on all sides in this old island. It’s a landscape of stories and the past here runs a live wire into the present day. Within the same hour, I saw an amulet from Egypt from nearly 3000 years ago, and passed a young, passionate balladeer giving full voice in the street to a ballad about a young woman – la baronessa Laura di Carini – who was killed by her father in 1538. He and her husband had come upon her alone with a man whom they suspected to be her lover. As she fell under her father’s stabbing, she clung to the wall, and her hand made a bloody print that can still be seen in the castle at Carini – or so I was told. The cantastorie – the ballad singer – was giving the song his all. He was sincere and funny at the same time as he knelt and frowned, mimed and lamented.

The eye of Horus, or Wadjet, was found in a Carthaginian’s grave in the city and it is still painted on the prows of fishing boats, and worn as a charm all over the Mediterranean and the Middle East, in order to ward off dangers. This function is, I believe, one of the deepest reasons for telling stories in general, and fairy tales in particular: the fantasy of hope conjures an antidote to the pain the plots remember. The street singer was young, curly haired, and had spent some time in Liverpool, he told me later, but he was back home now, and his song was raising money for a street theatre called Ditirammu (dialect for Dithryamb), that performs on a tiny stage in the stables of an ]old palazzo in the district called the Kalsa. Using a mixture of puppetry, song, dance, and mime, the troupe give local saints’ legends, traditional tales of crusader paladins versus dastardly Moors, and pastiches of Pinocchio, Snow White, and Alice in Wonderland.

marina2
A balladeer in Palermo. Photograph taken by Marina Warner. Do not use without permission.

Their work captures the way fairy tales spread through different media and can be played, danced or painted and still remain recognisable: there are individual stories which keep shape-shifting across time, and there is also a fairytale quality which suffuses different forms of expression (even recent fashion designs have drawn on fairytale imagery and motifs). The Palermo theatre’s repertoire also reveals the kinship between some history and fairy tale: the hard facts enclosed and memorialised in the stories. Although the happy ending is a distinguishing feature of fairy tales, many of them remember the way things were – Bluebeard testifies to the kinds of marriages that killed Laura di Carini.

A few days after coming across the cantastorie in the street, I was taken to see the country villa on the crest of Capo d’Orlando overlooking the sea, where Casimiro Piccolo lived with his brother and sister. The Piccolo siblings were rich Sicilian landowners, peculiar survivals of a mixture of luxurious feudalism and austere monasticism. A dilettante and dabbler in the occult, Casimiro believed in fairies. He went out to see them at twilight, the hour recommended by experts such as William Blake, who reported he had seen a fairy funeral, and the Revd. Robert Kirk, who had the information on good authority from his parishioners in the Highlands, where fairy abductions, second sight, and changelings were a regular occurrence in the seventeenth century.

The Eye of Horus, By Marie-Lan Nguyen, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Casimiro’s elder brother, Lucio, a poet who had a brief flash of fame in the Fifties, was as solitary, odd-looking, and idiosyncratic as himself, and the siblings lived alone with their twenty servants, in the midst of a park with rare shrubs and cacti from all over the world, their beautiful summer villa filled with a vast library of science, art, and literature, and marvellous things. They slept in beds as narrow as a discalced Carmelite’s, and never married. They loved their dogs, and gave them names that are mostly monosyllables, often sort of orientalised in a troubling way. They range from ‘Aladdin’ to ‘Mameluk’ to ‘Book’ and the brothers built them a cemetery of their own in the garden.

Casimiro was a follower of Paracelsus, who had distinguished the elemental beings as animating matter: gnomes, undines, sylphs and salamanders. Salamanders, in the form of darting, wriggling lizards, are plentiful on the baked stones of the south, but the others are the cousins of imps and elves, sprites and sirens, and they’re not so common. The journal Psychic News, to which Casimiro subscribed, inspired him to try to take photographs of the apparitions he saw in the park of exotic plants around the house. He also ordered various publications of the Society of Psychical Research and other bodies who tried to tap immaterial presences and energies. He was hoping for images like the famous Cottingley images of fairies sunbathing or dancing which Conan Doyle so admired. But he had no success. Instead, he painted: a fairy punt poled by a hobgoblin through the lily pads, a fairy doctor with a bag full of shining golden instruments taking the pulse of a turkey, four old gnomes consulting a huge grimoire held up by imps, etiolated genies, turbaned potentates, and eastern sages. He rarely left Sicily, or indeed, his family home, and he went on painting his sightings in soft, rich watercolour from 1943 to 1970 when he died.

marina3
Photograph by Marina Warner. Do not use without permission.

His work looks like Victorian or Edwardian fairy paintings. Had this reclusive Sicilian seen the crazed visions of Richard Dadd, or illustrations by Arthur Rackham or John Anster Fitzgerald? Or even Disney? Disney was looking very carefully at picture books when he formed the famous characters and stamped them with his own jokiness. Casimiro doesn’t seem to be in earnest, and the long-nosed dwarfs look a little bit like self-mockery. It is impossible to know what he meant, if he meant what he said, or what he believed. But the fact remains, for a grown man to believe in fairies strikes us now as pretty silly.

The Piccolo family’s cousin, close friend and regular visitor was Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, the author of The Leopard, and he wrote a mysterious and memorable short story about a classics professor who once spent a passionate summer with a mermaid. But tales of fairies, goblins, and gnomes seem to belong to an altogether different degree of absurdity from a classics professor meeting a siren.

And yet, the Piccolo brothers communicated with Yeats, who held all kinds of beliefs. He smelted his wonderful poems from a chaotic rubble of fairy lore, psychic theories, dream interpretation, divinatory methods, and Christian symbolism: “Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry.”

Featured image credit: Capo d’Orlando, by Chtamina. CC-BY-SA-2.5 via Wikimedia Commons

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8. A folklore and fairy tales reading list from Oxford World’s Classics

By Jessica Harris


This month our Oxford World’s Classics reading list is on folk and fairy tales. Many of these stories pre-date the printing press, and most will no doubt continue to be told for hundreds of years to come. How many of these have you heard of, and have we missed out your favourite? Let us know in the comments.

Beowulf

No list on folklore would be complete without Beowulf: probably the most famous English folk tale and a great story. This half-historical, half-legendary epic poem written by an unknown poet between the 8th and 11th century tells the story of the majestic hero Beowulf, who saves Hrothgar, the Danish king, from monstrous and terrifying enemies before eventually being slain. Through this tale of swashbuckling adventure we also see the power struggles and brutality of medieval politics.

Selected Tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

In 1812 the Brothers Grimm took contemporary German folk tales and shaped them in their own bloodthirsty way, and in doing so captivated and horrified children for years to come. There are no morals here; no happy endings – the antagonists such as the evil stepmother won’t just steal your sweets but would kill you without a second thought. Here we have, for example, the original Snow White, with the Witch forced to dance in red-hot shoes until her death.

Le Morte Darthur by Thomas Malory

This text, written by Sir Thomas Malory in 1470, provides us with the definitive version of many of the King Arthur stories: the Knights of the Round Table, Sir Lancelot’s betrayal, and the Quest for the Holy Grail. Here we see the Round Table full of warring factions; we see Arthur the King discredited by Lancelot, who begins an affair with his wife, Guinevere, and we see Arthur’s supporters’ revenge that Arthur is powerless to prevent. The book shows how Arthur and his court lived and felt – and it’s no wonder the legend is such a fundamental part of British culture.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

When the mysterious Green Knight turns up at King Arthur’s court and challenges anyone to strike him with his axe and accept a return blow in a year and a day, Sir Gawain, the youngest Knight in Sir Arthur’s court, decides to prove his mettle by accepting the challenge. However, when he strikes the Green Knight and beheads him, the man laughs, picks up his head and tells Gawain he has a year and a day to live. Despite being written in the fourteenth century, this poem’s main theme – proving yourself – makes it instantly relatable and compelling.

Statue of Hans Christian Andersen reading The Ugly Duckling, in Central Park, New York City

Hans Andersen’s Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen

This collection of fairy tales is a world away from Grimm’s violent and sinister collection – this Danish author was the creator of charming, accessible stories such as The Ugly Duckling and the Emperor’s New Clothes. Despite being poorly received when they were first published in 1936 because of their informality and focus on being amusing rather than educational, these stories have entertained generations of children. Christian Andersen invented the “fairy tale” as we know it today – simple, timeless stories that explore universal themes and end happily.

Eirik the Red and Other Icelandic Sagas

This saga was originally told orally around 1000 CE and was written down in the thirteenth or fourteenth century and is a major landmark in Icelandic folk literature. It tells the story of Eirik’s exile for murder, the same fate as his father, and his discovery and settlement in “Vinland”, a lush, plentiful country. It is believed to describe one of the first discoveries of North America, five hundred years before Captain Cook.

The Nibelungenlied

This epic comes from Medieval Germany and is a masterpiece of fantasy storytelling. Written in 1200 but rediscovered in the 1700s, it has since become the German national epic – on a par with the Iliad or the Ramayana. This story has it all: dragons, invisibility cloaks, fortune telling, and hoards of treasure guarded by dwarves and giants. We see love, jealousy and conflict, and the story ends with awful slaughter. The story has inspired a number of adaptations, including Wagner’s Ring cycle.

The Mabinogion

The Mabinogion is a collection of eleven medieval Welsh stories which combine Arthurian legend, Celtic myth and social narrative to create an epic series – its importance as a record of the history of culture and mythology in Wales is enormous. The stories are fantastical: the Four Branches of the Mabinogi are tales about British pagan gods recreated as human heroes, and sociological: The Dream of Macsen Wledig is an exaggerated story about the Roman Emperor Magnus Maximus.

Jessica Harris graduated from Warwick University with a degree in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics and has been working as an intern in the Online Product Marketing department in the Oxford office of Oxford University Press.

For over 100 years Oxford World’s Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford’s commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more. You can follow Oxford World’s Classics on Twitter, Facebook, or here on the OUPblog.

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Image credit: Statue of Hans Christian Andersen reading The Ugly Duckling, in Central Park, New York City. By Dismas (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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9. How and why do myths arise?

Myth: A Very Short Introduction

By Robert A. Segal


It is trite to say that one’s pet subject is interdisciplinary. These days what subject isn’t? The prostate? But myth really is interdisciplinary. For there is no study of myth as myth, the way, by contrast, there is said to be the study of literature as literature or of religion as religion. Myth is studied by other disciplines, above all by sociology, anthropology, psychology, politics, philosophy, literature, and religious studies. Each discipline applies itself to myth. For example, sociologists see myth as something belonging to a group.

Within each discipline are theories. A discipline can harbor only a few theories or scores of them.  What makes theories theories is that they are generalizations. They presume to know the answers to one or more of the three main questions about myth:  the origin, the function, or the subject matter.

The question of origin asks why, if not also how, myth arises. The answer is a need, which can be of any kind and on the part of an individual, such as the need to eat or to explain, or on the part of the group, such as the need to stay together. The need exists before myth, which arises to fulfill the need. Myth may be the initial or even the sole means of fulfilling the need. Or there may be other means, which compete with myth and may best it. For example, myth may be said to explain the physical world and to do so exceedingly well — until science arises and does it better. So claims the theorist E. B. Tylor, the pioneering English anthropologist.

Function is the flip side of origin. The need that causes myth to arise is the need that keeps it going. Myth functions as long as both the need continues to exist and myth continues to fulfill it at least as well as any competitor. The need for myth is always a need so basic that it itself never ceases. The need to eat, to explain the world, to express the unconscious, to give meaningfulness to life – these needs are panhuman. But the need for myth to fulfill these needs may not last forever. The need to eat can be fulfilled through hunting or farming without the involvement of myth. The need to express the unconscious can be fulfilled through therapy, which for both Sigmund Freud and his rival C. G. Jung is superior to myth. The need to find or to forge meaningfulness in life can be fulfilled without religion and therefore without myth for secular existentialists such as Albert Camus.

For some theorists, myth has always existed and will always continue to exist. For others, myth has not always existed and will not always continue to exist. For Mircea Eliade, a celebrated Romanian-born scholar of religion, religion has always existed and will always continue to exist. Because Eliade ties myth to religion, myth is safe. For not only Tylor but also J. G. Frazer, author of The Golden Bough, myth is doomed exactly because myth is tied to religion. For them science has replaced religion and as a consequence has replaced myth. “Modern myth” is a contradiction in terms.

The third main question about myth is that of subject matter. What is myth really about? There are two main answers: myth is about what it is literally about, or myth symbolizes something else. Taken literally, myth is usually about gods or heroes or physical events like rain. Tylor, Eliade, and the anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski all read myth literally. Myth taken literally may also mean myth taken historically, especially in myths about heroes.

The subject matter of myth taken symbolically is open-ended. A myth about the Greek god Zeus can be said to symbolize one’s father (so Freud), one’s father archetype (so Jung), or the sky (so nature mythologists).  The religious existentialists Rudolf Bultmann and Hans Jonas would contend that the myth of the biblical flood is to be read not as a explanation of a supposedly global event from long ago but as a description of what it is like for anyone anywhere to live in a world in which, it is believed, God exists and treats humans fairly.

To call the flood story a myth is not to spurn it. I am happy to consider any theory of myth, but not the crude dismissal of a story or a belief as a “mere myth.” True or false, myth is never “mere.” For to call even a conspicuously false story or belief a mere myth is to miss the power that that story or belief holds for those who accept it. The difficulty in persuading anyone to give up an obviously false myth attests to its allure.

Robert A. Segal is Sixth Century Chair in Religious Studies at the University of Aberdeen.  He is the author of Myth: A Very Short Introduction and of Theorizing about Myth. He is presently at work editing the Oxford Handbook of Myth Theory. He directs the Centre for the Study of Myth at Aberdeen.

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Who Was Who online, part of Who’s Who online, has granted free access for a limited time to the entries for the philosophers and scholars mentioned in the above article.

Image credit: Thetis and Zeus by Anton Losenko, 1769. Copy of artwork used for the purposes of illustration in a critical commentary on the work. Source: Wikimedia Commons. 

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10. Crane Wife at Modern Eden Gallery


Hello all! I wanted to let you know about my latest work hanging at the very wonderful Moden Eden gallery in San Francisco, CA! I was lucky enough to be part of their latest group show, "Myth," and returned to a subject I find myself coming back to time and time again; the Japanese folktale The Crane Wife.

More info "behind the work" and purchase info here!
I didn't get to post about the opening reception back on July 14th, but luckily, there is a closing reception in conjunction with North Beach First Fridays on Friday, August 3, 2012.   The closing reception will be held at 403 Francisco Street from 6-9pm.

Facebook event invite here!
http://www.facebook.com/events/449331605088376/

Thanks everyone! : D <3
www.daisychurch.com

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11. The Oxford Comment: Episode 4 – RELIGION! (Part 1)



In this two-part series, Michelle and Lauren explore some of the most hot-button issues in religion this past year.

Subscribe and review this podcast on iTunes!

Featured in Part 1:

Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ramadan Debate: Is Islam a Religion a Peace?

Highlights and exclusive interviews with Hitchens, Ramadan, & New York Times National Religion Correspondent  Laurie Goodstein

Read more and watch a video courtesy of the 92nd St Y HERE.

*     *     *     *     *

Nick Mafi, Oxford University Press employee extraordinaire

*     *     *     *     *

David Sehat, author of The Myth of American Religious Freedom

*     *     *     *     *

The Ben Daniels Band

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12. Review: Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

Teagan's always been the practical type -- focused on her schoolwork, ignoring her male classmates, not believing in goblins. But when her nomadic, distant cousin arrives on her doorstep everything begins to change. Finn claims to be the MacCumhaill, defender against all of goblinkind. Of course Teagan doesn't believe him. At first. But when she begins seeing...things...and her dad vanishes

10 Comments on Review: Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton, last added: 1/30/2011
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13. Review: Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton

Ari knows there are secrets buried in her family's past, but she doesn't realize just how devastating they might be until she receives a note in her dead mother's handwriting: "Run." The warning comes not a moment too soon, as Ari finds herself launched headfirst into a fight for her life. Determined to find answers about what horrors her mother foresaw and just who is sending assassins after her

22 Comments on Review: Darkness Becomes Her by Kelly Keaton, last added: 2/22/2011
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14. A drinking bout in several parts (Part 3: Mead)

By Anatoly Liberman


Tales that explain the origin of things are called etiological.  All etymologies are etiological tales by definition.  It seems that one of the main features of Homo sapiens has always been his unquenchable desire to get drunk.  Sapiens indeed!  The most ancient intoxicating drink of the Indo-Europeans was mead.  Moreover, it seems that several neighboring tribes borrowed the name of this drink from them (and undoubtedly the drink itself:  otherwise, what would have been the point of taking over the word?), for we have Finnish mesi, Proto-Chinese mit, and Japanese mitsu, allegedly modifications of Indo-European medu- or medhu-.  Being inebriated allowed one to converse with the gods; intoxication and inspiration were synonyms from early on.  We now have a different view of alcoholism and have reduced the sublime state to the dull legal formula “under the influence.”  But things were different in the spring of civilization.  One of the most memorable myths of the medieval Scandinavians is about a deadly fight for the mead of wisdom and poetry.

After a truce was made between two warring clans of gods (the cause of the war has not been discovered), they met to make peace, took a crock, and spat into it.  Saliva causes fermentation and has been used widely in old days for processes like the one being described here.  From the contents of the crock the gods created a homunculus called Kvasir, who turned out to be sober (!) and extremely wise: there was no question he could not answer.  He traveled far and wide and taught men wisdom.  The name Kvasir happens to be an almost full homonym of Slavic kvas (usually spelled, for no legitimate reason, kvass in English), a malt-based drink, one of whose indispensable ingredients is bread.  However, despite what some books state in a rather dogmatic way, the coincidence between Kvasir and kvas may be fortuitous.  Although not directly, kvas is related to Slavic words for “sour.”  Closer cognates mean “froth” and “cook; boil”; one of them is Latin caseus, the etymon of Engl. cheese.  In Germanic, Kvasir resembles verbs like Engl. quash and squash.  Both are usually traced to Old French, but similar-sounding and partly synonymous verbs, for instance, English squeeze and quench, are native, while Modern German quetschen, corresponding to Engl. quash, is a word of disputable etymology (perhaps native, perhaps from French).  Whatever product the gods obtained through fermentation, its base was first “crushed” or “squashed.”  Kvasir appears unexpectedly in a later myth connected with the capture of Loki; however, his life must have been short, because two dwarfs killed him.

In the world of Scandinavian myths we encounter gods, dwarfs, and giants.  Despite the associations these words carry to us, “an average giant” did not tower over “an average god,” whereas the dwarfs were not tiny.  Giants and dwarfs became huge and small in later folklore.  In Scandinavian myths, they were distinguished by their functions: the gods maintained order in the universe, the giants tried to disrupt it, and the dwarfs were artisans and produced all the valuable objects that allowed the gods to stay in power.  Most unfortunately, the myths of the Germans and the Anglo-Saxons have not come down to us, and only some traces of them can be reconstructed from popular beliefs, the evidence of place names, and the like.  But to continue with Kvasir.  Two malicious dwarfs called him aside for a word in private and killed him, after which they let his blood run into two vats and a kettle.  They mixed the blood with honey, the main sweetener then known, and it became the mead that

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15. A drinking bout in several parts (Conclusion: Mead)

By Anatoly Liberman


We may assume that people, wherever they lived, learned to use honey and even practiced apiculture before dairy products became part of their diet, for honey can be found and consumed in its natural state, while milk, cheese, butter, and the rest presuppose the existence of domesticated animals, be it horses, cows, sheep, or goats, and of a developed industry.  However, humans are mammals, so that the word for “milk” is probably contemporaneous with language, even though no Common Indo-European term for it existed (for example, the word lactation reminds us of Latin lac, and it is quite different from milk).  With time, “milk and honey” turned into a symbol of abundance.  While the god Othinn (see the previous post) was busy stealing the mead of poetry, mortals dreamed of catching a bee swarm.  From 10th-century Christian Germany we have a rhyming charm, a pagan “genre” to be sure, but with Jesus Christ and Mary invoked, for it was the result that counted rather than the affiliation of the benefactors.  Its purpose was to let the flying bees stop at the speaker’s farm: “Christ, a swarm is here! / Now fly here, my ‘throng’, / to God’s protection, alight safe and sound. / Come, come down, bees;/ Command them to do so, Saint Mary. / Swarm, you may not fly to the woods, / To escape from me/ Or to get the better of me.”

Thousands of years before the recording of this incantation, the bee was glorified in the myths of the ancient Indo-Europeans.  Readers of old tales will remember that the bee was the sacred insect of the Greek goddess Artemis.  A cave painting of a human surrounded by bees while removing honeycombs and an old depiction of honeycombs have also come down to us. Whatever effect charms may once have had on German bees, honey was certainly in wide use.  In the phrase milk and honey, milk stands first, but in its Russian analog med-pivo (literally, “mead-beer”) and in its Baltic (Lithuanian and Latvian) equivalent medu-alus (note alus, a cognate of Engl. ale!) “mead” precedes “beer.”  The story teller of Russian folklore tends to finish his tale with the begging formula to the effect that he drank med-pivo at the wedding feast and that it flowed over his moustache, but not a drop got into his mouth (so this is the time to quench his thirst and reward his labors).

Naturally, med in the compound med-pivo referred to an intoxicating drink, but in Modern Russian the word med means “honey.”  Although in recorded texts mead “beverage” occurs earlier than mead “honey,” common sense tells us that before people began to drink “mead” after they got acquainted with honey.   The fermentation of wild honey did not remain a secret either, and this is a likely reason the two senses of mead merged.  The word wine came to the European languages from Latin, and the Romans seem to have borrowed it from their neighbors.  Perhaps in the lending language it also meant “mead,” for Persian may (a form derived from Indo-European medu- or medhu-) means “wine.”

As noted in the previous post, the Indo-Europeans used two words for “honey”: one was the ancestor of Engl. mead, the other the ancestor of Greek méli (genitive mélitos, so that the stem was mélit-).  Every time we confront a pair of such synonyms the question arises what distinguished the objects they designated.  For instance, loaf is a descendant of a word that meant “bread.”  What then was the difference between hlaifs- (the ancient form of loaf) and bread?  Presumably

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16. New Release Roundup: July 24 - 30, 2011

A weekly feature I started to showcase the exciting new releases hitting shelves this week.


July 26


Vanished by Sheela Chari

Eleven-year-old Neela dreams of being a famous musician, performing for admiring crowds on her traditional Indian stringed instrument. Her particular instrument used to be her grandmother’s—made of warm, rich wood, and intricately carved with a mysterious-looking dragon.

When this special family heirloom vanishes from a local church, Neela is devastated. As she searches for it, strange clues surface: a teakettle ornamented with a familiar-looking dragon, a threatening note, a connection to a famous dead musician, and even a legendary curse. The clues point all the way to India, where it seems that Neela's intrument has a long history of vanishing and reappearing. If she is able to track it down, will she be able to stop it from disappearing again?

Sheela Chari's debut novel is a finely tuned story of coincidence and fate, trust and deceit, music and mystery.


Wildefire by Karsten Knight

Every flame begins with a spark.

Ashline Wilde is having a rough sophomore year. She’s struggling to find her place as the only Polynesian girl in school, her boyfriend just cheated on her, and now her runaway sister, Eve, has decided to barge back into her life. When Eve’s violent behavior escalates and she does the unthinkable, Ash transfers to a remote private school nestled in California’s redwoods, hoping to put the tragedy behind her. But her fresh start at Blackwood Academy doesn’t go as planned. Just as Ash is beginning to enjoy the perks of her new school—being captain of the tennis team, a steamy romance with a hot, local park ranger—Ash discovers that a group of gods and goddesses have mysteriously enrolled at Blackwood…and she’s one of them. To make matte

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17. Review: Wildefire by Karsten Knight

When Ashline's sister rolls into town, it's rarely a good sign -- but this time Eve's more out-of-control than ever. In the aftermath of her visit, Ash leaves town to escape the tragedy she left in her wake. Blackwood Academy is supposed to be a fresh start, free from chaos and pain. Unfortunately, a mystical force has drawn Ash -- and others like her -- to this secluded school among the redwoods, and Eve may not be the nastiest thing stalking them from the imposing forest.

This debut is eerie and intense, steamy and mysterious. From page one, Wildefire flies into action, sucking readers up in a vortex of legend and imagination. Karsten Knight draws together strands from a smorgasbord of different mythologies, spicing things up with a few invented creatures of his own. These are not run-of-the-mill supernaturals, and their variety and scale give the novel an epic feel. The forces at play are as deadly as they are majestic -- shown in stark detail through flashbacks and visions. This tale is dark and dangerous, in a delicious, edge-of-your-seat kind of way. From the first explosive page to the final astonishing revelation, just when readers think they know where this story is taking them, Wildefire yanks them away in another startling direction.

The high-octane energy is due in large part to Ash. Ashline Wilde is hardcore and sarcastic -- and maybe more than a little angry. Her larger-than-life personality and razor sharp repartee jump off the page and grab readers by the throat. Though she's got the typical teen drama -- cheating boyfriends and ill-timed detentions -- her family dysfunction really steals the show. When her motorcycle-riding, hell-raising, runaway sister blows through town, she stirs up more than just trouble. Ash and Eve take sibling rivalry to a whole new level, and their struggle fuels the emotional core of the novel. Though it's easy to villainize Eve, Knight takes care to show the ties that bind the two sisters -- making their choices less black and white, and Ashline's struggle more wrenching.

Unlike so many heroines, Ashline has more than a studly boyfriend on her side (though she has one of those too). The group of friends she gathers at Blackwood is diverse and dynamic -- from aloof but alluring Raja, spooky and ethereal Serena, roguish but romantic Rolfe, to nerdy but loyal Jackie. Though they may initially seem like stereotypes, the ragtag gang will steadily grow on readers as they face their demons (both real and psychological). The characters feel so alive, like real teens -- even though they're so much more.

Knight's style is effortless and unobtrusive, painting vivid scenes without getting in the way of his story. The novel's irreverent wit and brisk pace never give readers a moment's boredom, carrying them along on the smooth surface of its prose -- which stands in sharp contrast to the cosmic consequences hanging in the balance. Wildefire will draw readers in with its otherworldly opening, pull them along through midnight monsters and would-be mercenaries, straight into surreal psychics and smoldering romance -- and leave them begging for more.

Rating: 

Disclosure: I received an advance galley of this novel from the publisher for an honest review.

This novel

4 Comments on Review: Wildefire by Karsten Knight, last added: 7/30/2011
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18. In My Mailbox: July 1 - 7, 2011

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.


For Review:


Possess by Gretchen McNeil

Thanks to Allison at Balzer + Bray!

Coming August 23, 2011!

Fifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her mom, by the cute son of a local police sergeant, and by the eerie voices she can suddenly and inexplicably hear. Unfortunately for Bridget, it turns out the voices are demons – and Bridget has the rare ability to banish them back to whatever hell they came from.

Terrified to tell people about her new power, Bridget confides in a local priest who enlists her help in increasingly dangerous cases of demonic possession. But just as she is starting to come to terms with her new power, Bridget receives a startling message from one of the demons. Now Bridget must unlock the secret to the demons' plan before someone close to her winds up dead – or worse, the human vessel of a demon king.


In the Forests of the Night (Goblin Wars #2) by Kersten Hamilton

Thanks to Kersten Hamilton and Clarion Books!

Coming October 3, 2011!

Teagan, Finn, and Aiden have rescued Tea's and Aiden's father and have made it out of Mag Mell alive, bringing a few new friends with them. But The Dark Man's forces are hot on their heels. Back in Chicago, Teagan soon realizes that she is not the target of the goblins. In fact, the goblins call her princess, and call her to come out and play. Something is happening to her, and she suspects it’s an infection

17 Comments on In My Mailbox: July 1 - 7, 2011, last added: 8/9/2011
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19. New Release Roundup: August 28 - September 3, 2011

A weekly feature I started to showcase the exciting new releases hitting shelves this week.


August 30


Dust & Decay (Benny Imura #2) by Jonathan Maberry

Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing

Six months have passed since the terrifying battle with Charlie Pink-eye and the Motor City Hammer in the zombie-infested mountains of the Rot & Ruin. It’s also six months since Benny Imura and Nix Riley saw something in the air that changed their lives. Now, after months of rigorous training with Benny’s zombie-hunter brother Tom, Benny and Nix are ready to leave their home forever and search for a better future. Lilah the Lost Girl and Benny’s best friend Lou Chong are going with them.

Sounds easy. Sounds wonderful. Except that everything that can go wrong does. Before they can even leave there is a shocking zombie attack in town. But as soon as they step into the Rot &amp;amp;amp; Ruin they are pursued by the living dead, wild animals, insane murderers and the horrors of Gameland –where teenagers are forced to fight for their lives in the zombie pits. Worst of all…could the evil Charlie Pink-eye still be alive?

In the great Rot &amp;amp;amp; Ruin everything wants to kill you. Everything…and not everyone in Benny’s small band of travelers will make it out alive.


Soul Thief (Demon Tr

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20. New Release Roundup: September 4 - 10, 2011

A weekly feature I started to showcase the exciting new releases hitting shelves this week.


September 5


Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

Poppy

Most high school sports teams have rivalries with other schools. At Hamilton High, it's a civil war: the football team versus the soccer team. And for her part,Lissa is sick of it. Her quarterback boyfriend, Randy, is always ditching her to go pick a fight with the soccer team or to prank their locker room. And on three separate occasions Randy's car has been egged while he and Lissa were inside, making out. She is done competing with a bunch of sweaty boys for her own boyfriend's attention

Then Lissa decides to end the rivalry once and for all: She and the other players' girlfriends go on a hookup strike. The boys won't get any action from them until the football and soccer teams make peace. What they don't count on is a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first. But what Lissa never sees coming is her own sexual tension with the leader of the boys, Cash Sterling...


Velvet by Mary Hooper

4 Comments on New Release Roundup: September 4 - 10, 2011, last added: 9/5/2011
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21. Review: Fury by Elizabeth Miles

Release Date: August 30, 2011
Series: The Fury Trilogy #1
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Nobleicon

Emily and Chase aren't bad people -- they've just made a few mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes, right? A little remorse and everything will be fine. Unfortunately, some acts can't be taken back -- and three beautiful, mysterious girls are here to make sure they pay. As Emily and Chase are about to learn, sometimes sorry just isn't enough.

Fury alternates between two teens, Emily and Chase, and carefully sketches in the details of their ordinary, every day lives. It is surprising to discover that the mythological beings are not the main characters of this novel -- instead, they hover on the fringe, leaving the focus on the remarkably human and flawed leads. Elizabeth Miles brings her cast to life, making them seem more like people than characters. The inhabitants of Ascension are not extraordinary, and that's what makes them so authentic. They are imperfect and not all that likable -- but that seems to be the point. Emily is naive and shallow, not to mention a terrible friend, and Chase seems petty and insecure. Their off-putting personalities make sense in the context of the novel, yet it also makes it difficult to invest in their fates. Miles' skill at humanizing her characters is impressive, but they would be more rounded with a few admirable traits as well.

Em and Chase are not the most despicable people in town by a long shot, yet they're the unfortunate souls singled out for vengeance. The fact that the avenging girls are not the protagonists adds to their mystique, but it also obscures the method to their madness. The first half of the novel drags, as it's impossible to tell what transgression Chase committed or what punishment Emily is receiving for her own crimes. Crucial backstory isn't introduced until late in the novel, leaving readers feeling confused for an agonizing length of time. Yet, though Emily's story line is clearest at the outset, Chase's plot ends up being the strongest as he moves inexorably toward his fate. Though neither is endearing, Chase has the most complexity -- from his love-and-hate relationship with a childhood friend, to his attempt to rise above his socioeconomic status -- readers will feel sorry for him as his punishment progresses (even if he seems to be determinedly walking into the trap).

The calculating and manipulative powers of their tormentors are made starkly and terrifyingly clear as the novel spirals toward its devastating conclusion. Miles lays a strong groundwork for her mythology, immersing readers in the fear and uncertainty of a

7 Comments on Review: Fury by Elizabeth Miles, last added: 9/5/2011
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22. Signed, Sealed, Delivered (1)


Frequently, authors (and Publishers Weekly) announce upcoming new series loooooong before there is pretty cover art or even a firm release date -- which makes it hard to include them for Waiting on Wednesday. However, their teasery descriptions are so exciting that I just have to share them. So, I'm going to start posting a roundup of exciting new book deals. Since this is the first one, I'm going to include a few that were announced a while back. (Click the titles to add them on Goodreads)


The Diviners by Libba Bray
2012 | Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Author of the Gemma Doyle trilogy, Going Bovine, Beauty Queens, & more

A supernatural series set in Manhattan during the 1920s that follows a teen heroine reminiscent of two of the era's most famous literary women—Zelda Fitzgerald and Dorothy Parker. The story will be a wild new ride full of dames and dapper dons, jazz babies and Prohibition-defying parties, conspiracy and prophecy—and all manner of things that go bump in the neon-drenched night.


Summer 2012 | Putnam
Author of the Hex Hall trilogy

First in a new trilogy about a high school Miss Popularity whose world changes when a funny thing happens on the way to the (Homecoming) coronation: she's recruited into the Paladins, a supernatural sect of bodyguards sworn to protect those who will play an important role in the future, and charged with saving her archnemesis even if it means sacrificing her place as queen bee.


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23. BOOK OF THE DAY: February 2012 List

BOOK OF THE DAY-February

No need to wait until the end of February for the complete list. Here it is–plan ahead! Click on the link above, and also follows us on Facebook at Litland Reviews http://facebook.com/Litlandreviews

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24. BOOK OF THE DAY: The January list!

BOOK OF THE DAY-January

Here it is! The book of the day challenge, to recommend a new book or related media every day in 2012. January is complete, and attached for handy download–just click on the above link. February is on the way! “Friend” Litland Reviews on Facebook to see daily recommendations as they post. http://facebook.com/Litlandreviews

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25. Book of the day: April

BOOK OF THE DAY-April

The full April list is here. Get a sneak peak at the 2nd half of the month and stock up for summer vacation too!

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