Read North American Indians Myths and Legends (Myths & Legends) by Lewis Spence Free Online
Book Title: North American Indians Myths and Legends (Myths & Legends)|
The author of the book: Lewis Spence
ISBN 13: 9781859580158
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 499 KB
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Loaded: 1308 times
Reader ratings: 5.2
Date of issue: February 25th 1994
Read full description of the books:
In the past I've been a huge fan of the myths and legends series re-published by Senate House but on starting this one I realised in the past I must have only read books about Europeans and Egyptians. Written in 1914 this had some of the worst racist descriptions of Native Americans I'd read in a long time. There were countless uses of the words "red skinned savages" and the fact that they were an inferior race, cultural, intellectualy and religiously. It was a little sickening! And this from a guy who at the end tried to say that we shouldn't judge the "savages" as harshly as they had been judged. If this was meant to be a fair anaylisis I'm horrified.
Thankfully only the first half is full of this crap "anthropological" approach. When the legends actually begin they are very enjoyable. The myths at least aren't all jumbled together but are broken up into different myths from different areas and different tribes so you can get some sense of the different beliefs and the different world views. I really liked the Iroquois legends they were very much about people using magic and had many less animal stories. They had a wonderful story about a boy who was helped by a skeleton who saved his life several times. In the end the boy came back and was able to resurrect the skeleton and the other skeletons in the area. I just really liked the idea that not all skeletons were evil.
My favourites though were the Chinook legends from the Northwest. They had a wonderful trickster character called Blue Jay and his sister Ioi who married into the land of the dead. She was more clever and resourceful than Blue Jay and ended up fooling him into betraying himself a few times. I went in search of more legends of them online and found several websites that had very similar versions of the stories to the ones I'd been reading. This made me think that despite the anthropological racism in the book the mythology itself was quite accurate. If you can ignore those parts and just read the stories it makes for a good book.
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Read information about the authorJames Lewis Thomas Chalmers Spence was a Scottish journalist, poet, author, folklorist and student of the occult.
After graduating from Edinburgh University he pursued a career in journalism. He was an editor at The Scotsman 1899-1906, editor of The Edinburgh Magazine for a year, 1904–05, then an editor at The British Weekly, 1906-09. In this time his interest was sparked in the myth and folklore of Mexico and Central America, resulting in his popularisation of the Mayan Popul Vuh, the sacred book of the Quiché Mayas (1908). He compiled A Dictionary of Mythology (1910 and numerous additional volumes).
Spence was an ardent Scottish nationalist, He was the founder of the Scottish National Movement which later merged to form the National Party of Scotland and which in turn merged to form the Scottish National Party. He unsuccessfully contested a parliamentary seat for Midlothian and Peebles Northern at a by-election in 1929.
He also wrote poetry in English and Scots. His Collected Poems were published in 1953. He investigated Scottish folklore and wrote about Brythonic rites and traditions in Mysteries of Celtic Britain (1905). In this book, Spence theorized that the original Britons were descendants of a people that migrated from Northwest Africa and were probably related to the Berbers and the Basques.
Spence's researches into the mythology and culture of the New World, together with his examination of the cultures of western Europe and north-west Africa, led him almost inevitably to the question of Atlantis. During the 1920s he published a series of books which sought to rescue the topic from the occultists who had more or less brought it into disrepute. These works, amongst which were The Problem of Atlantis (1924) and History of Atlantis (1927), continued the line of research inaugurated by Ignatius Donnelly and looked at the lost island as a Bronze Age civilization, that formed a cultural link with the New World, which he invoked through examples he found of striking parallels between the early civilizations of the Old and New Worlds.
Spence's erudition and the width of his reading, his industry and imagination were all impressive; yet the conclusions he reached, avoiding peer-reviewed journals, have been almost universally rejected by mainstream scholarship. His popularisations met stiff criticism in professional journals, but his continued appeal among theory hobbyists is summed up by a reviewer of The Problem of Atlantis (1924) in The Geographical Journal: "Mr. Spence is an industrious writer, and, even if he fails to convince, has done service in marshalling the evidence and has produced an entertaining volume which is well worth reading." Nevertheless, he seems to have had some influence upon the ideas of controversial author Immanuel Velikovsky, and as his books have come into the public domain, they have been successfully reprinted and some have been scanned for the Internet.
Spence's 1940 book Occult Causes of the Present War seems to have been the first book in the field of Nazi occultism.
Over his long career, he published more than forty books, many of which remain in print to this day.