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The Hebrew Myths: The Book of Genesis
Edited by Robert A. Davis
RRP: GBP£ 49.99
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Price: GBP£ 44.99
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ISBN: 978 1 857546 61 3
Imprint: Lives and Letters
Published: May 2005
216 x 135 x 30 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
For thirty years Robert Graves and Raphael Patai, one raised a strict Protestant, the other a strict Jew, were close friends and collaborators. That collaboration culminating in the book Hebrew Myths: The Book of Genesis; 'we never disagreed on any question of fact or historical assessment'. They collected traditional Hebrew myths that amplify (and sometimes subtly change) stories found in the Book of Genesis. They go beyond the Christian biblical and Judaic versions of Hebrew myth, and use midrashim, folk-tales, apocryphal texts and other sources to nuance, extend and complete the stories.
'Myths are dramatic stories that form a sacred charter either authorising the continuance of ancient institutions, customs, rites and beliefs in the area where they are current, or approving alterations,' says the introduction. Those are the very myths that lie at the base of all the great Semitic monotheistic religions, the myths from which so many of our own structures and concerns spring. Part of the mission of this book is to see through from the authorised Bible texts to the suppressed and censored pre-Biblical accounts. Patai and Graves approach their subject with firm scholarship and informed inference, and as we read we become aware of shadows, colours, intensities, coming back into stories we thought we knew.
Like Graves's celebrated The Greek Myths, to which Hebrew Myths serves as a companion volume, this is an invaluable source book and reference tool, but it is also a fascinating text to read sequentially. From it emerges a rich sense of a culture in the making, a culture consisting of oral and literary traditions, where the spiritual is deeply rooted in landscape and history.
Praise for Robert Graves 'There is eloquence, wit and a formal shapeliness in abundance from first to last.'
Michael Glover, Financial Times 10/02/01 'While poetry schools came and went, Graves went on writing until his death in 1985, in an elegant, classically inspired style.'
Andrew Crumey, Scotland on Sunday 07/01/01 'No one else offers his precise combination of eroticism, nightmare and epigram.'
Sean O'Brien, The Guardian 13/01/01 'Graves experiences in the trenches of the First World War are most vivid and moving.'
Robert Nye, Scotsman on Sunday, 16/12/00 'In his attitude to verse he remained a Georgian, an eccentric one.'
Eric Hester, Catholic Times 20/02/00 'Graves enshrines his archetypal motifs of obsessive love in legendary contexts from which the contemporary world is resolutely excluded.'
Mark Ford, The London Review of Books 'One of the twentieth century's major writers.'
Richard Foster, Yorkshire Evening Press Graves is a poet and a visionary in his prose writings, always stimulating and frequently enlightening.
Patrick Reilly, The Herald
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