Thomas Bulfinch’s “Bulfinch’s Mythologies”

A Must Read 300You may have noticed that sometimes I like to review specific books, like a collection of an author’s works, rather than the individual pieces; this is one of those times. For Christmas, I had the good fortune to get a copy of Bulfinch’s Mythologies, a collection of The Age of Fable, The Age of Chivalry, and Legends of Charlemagne, each of which focuses on legends from another time in history. Thomas Bulfinch wrote these three works in 1855-1863, and was so popular that his versions of the myths were taught in schools for several decades. I have always wanted to get my hands on a collection, so you can imagine my excitement when I finally got a nice leatherbound copy. The question is, “Now that I finally have the book, how is it?”

What immediately impressed me about Bulfinch’s work is his manner of writing. The various legends throughout the book are recounted primarily through prose, and almost have a “storybook” feel to them, explaining various anecdotes that a literal translation of the fables might assume the readers know. In the book’s introduction, Bulfinch even explains that the point of this collection is to make everyday readers familiar with the mythological references they will come across when reading, which means that if Bulfinch doesn’t adequately introduce these fables, the whole collection is little more than an elegant book of fairy tales. Luckily, Bulfinch’s Mythologies greatly exceeded my expectations across the board. The legends don’t feel “dumbed down,” and I actually found myself thinking back to past reads and picking apart mythological references I never noticed. Ultimately, I have to recommend this book to people who either love mythology, or to people who are simply avid readers. The prose flows smoothly and naturally, and the sheer treasure horde of classical content will likely keep readers enraptured throughout many reads. Bulfinch’s Mythologies will greatly enhance your reading experiences, especially if you like to read more classical works. I can safely say that Bulfinch’s Mythologies will be seeing several revisitings from me.

Source: Jake Depew, Assistant Editor

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