We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
When They Severed Earth from Sky: How the Human Mind Shapes Myth | [Elizabeth Wayland Barber, Paul T. Barber]

When They Severed Earth from Sky: How the Human Mind Shapes Myth

Why were Prometheus and Loki envisioned as chained to rocks? What was the Golden Calf? Why are mirrors believed to carry bad luck? How could anyone think that mortals like Perseus, Beowulf, and St. George actually fought dragons, since dragons don't exist? Strange though they sound, however, these "myths" did not begin as fiction.
Regular Price:$25.00
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

Publisher's Summary

Why were Prometheus and Loki envisioned as chained to rocks? What was the Golden Calf? Why are mirrors believed to carry bad luck? How could anyone think that mortals like Perseus, Beowulf, and St. George actually fought dragons, since dragons don't exist? Strange though they sound, however, these "myths" did not begin as fiction.

This absorbing book shows that myths originally transmitted real information about real events and observations, preserving the information sometimes for millennia within nonliterate societies. Geologists' interpretations of how a volcanic cataclysm long ago created Oregon's Crater Lake, for example, is echoed point for point in the local myth of its origin. The Klamath tribe saw it happen and passed down the story - for nearly 8,000 years. We, however, have been literate for so long that we've forgotten how myths encode reality. Recent studies of how our brains work, applied to a wide range of data from the Pacific Northwest to ancient Egypt to modern stories reported in newspapers, have helped the Barbers deduce the characteristic principles by which such tales both develop and degrade through time. Myth is in fact a quite reasonable way to convey important messages orally over many generations - although reasoning back to the original events is possible only under rather specific conditions.

Our oldest written records date to 5,200 years ago, but we have been speaking and mythmaking for perhaps 100,000. This groundbreaking book points the way to restoring some of that lost history and teaching us about human storytelling. The book is published by Princeton University Press.

©2004 Princeton University Press (P)2010 Redwood Audiobooks

What the Critics Say

"When They Severed Earth from Sky, provides an intellectually challenging and parsimonious new framework. It not only sheds light on the planet's natural history but also offers alluring insights about human cognition." (Science)

"In their highly engaging, thoroughly researched analysis of the meaning of myths, When They Severed Earth from Sky, [the authors] build a strong case that historical facts can be extracted from the mists of our mythic past.... I think the Barbers are on to something here. Any student of myths ignores this important work at his or her peril." (American Scientist)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (25 )
5 star
 (12)
4 star
 (7)
3 star
 (3)
2 star
 (2)
1 star
 (1)
Overall
4.1 (12 )
5 star
 (6)
4 star
 (3)
3 star
 (2)
2 star
 (0)
1 star
 (1)
Story
3.8 (11 )
5 star
 (4)
4 star
 (2)
3 star
 (4)
2 star
 (1)
1 star
 (0)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Stanley Germantown, WI, United States 02-05-11
    Stanley Germantown, WI, United States 02-05-11 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    16
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    59
    16
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "The Volcano Book"

    I suppose this book was well researched and written, but I was hugely disappointed by the material. It was extremely redundant regarding volcanoes and folk literature and barely touching on classic Greek and Roman mythology as I had expected. One of my more disappointing listens. Yes the explanations of myth techniques was okay, but I grew weary of the story of long strands of red firey hair being explained as lava streams. I understood the concept the first time explained.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amber Fort Collins, CO, United States 12-19-10
    Amber Fort Collins, CO, United States 12-19-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    217
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    104
    54
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    6
    0
    Overall
    "Interesting, but the narrator's annoying"

    I really enjoyed the theory side of things, but found that (like most books written by researchers not authors) the writing style was a bit hit and miss. I never did get used to the narrator's voice either. Over all it was worth the listen though.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-2 of 2 results

    There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.