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Chinese Mythology

Paperback
, 344 pages

10 b&w illus.

ISBN:
9780801861833
April 1999
$30.00

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Chinese Mythology

An Introduction

In Chinese Mythology, Anne Birrell provides English translations of some 300 representative myth narratives selected from over 100 classical texts, many of which have never before been translated into any Western language. Organizing the narratives according to themes and motifs common to world mythology, Birrell addresses issues of source, dating, attribution, textural variants, multiforms, and context. Drawing on exhaustive work in comparative mythology, she surveys the development of Chinese myth studies, summarizes the contribution of Chinese and Japanese scholars to the study of Chinese myth since the 1920s, and examines special aspects of traditional approaches to Chinese myth. The result is an unprecedented guide to the study of Chinese myth for specialists and nonspecialists alike.

Anne M. Birrell, whose previous books include Popular Songs and Ballads of Han China and New Songs from a Jade Terrace, has taught Chinese literature at the City University of New York and the University of Cambridge.

"The first serious and comprehensive introduction to Chinese mythology aimed at both the specialist and general reader. It is splendidly organized with well-chosen texts, lucid commentary, and useful supplementary matter... Sets new standards in the presentation of Chinese mythology."

"We must all thank Professor Birrell for providing an incredibly bountiful source, containing all manner of practical and fascinating information within its framework of myths. This book should find many uses and readers—it is a superb resource for teaching about Chinese myth, literature, history, religion, culture, and thought."

"One can safely expect to see this volume in all libraries that serve educated general readers as well as even the most modest academic libraries. Anne Birrell is to be congratulated for bringing this arcane subject matter into the grasp of a wide variety of readers outside the China-studies area."

"Goes far beyond anything in or out of print on this subject. Nothing remotely of this stimulating nature and high quality exists in English. It will be very much sought after by sinologists, but especially by non-sinologist comparativists. Birrell has singlehandedly saved the scholarly world at least a decade in its attempts to come to grips with this fragmented, refractory body of narratives... [A] marvelous work of humanistic scholarship."