The Knife Goes In, But You Don’t Feel It

Never underestimate the ability of senior academics to dismiss a book with what sound like words of praise.

Today’s example, Wendy Doniger’s (leading scholar of history of religion, particularly in India) blurb on a new book called The Origins of the World’s Mythologies.

“Not since Frazer’s Golden Bough, has anyone achieved such a grand synthesis of world mythology. Boldly swimming upstream against the present scholarly emphasis on difference and context, Witzel assembles massive evidence for a single, prehistoric, Ur-mythology. An astonishing book”

–Wendy Doniger, Mircea Eliade Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Religions at the University of Chicago and author of The Woman Who Pretended to Be Who She Was

In other words, I think she is saying that it follows a solipsistic (“swimming upstream”) and out-of-date methodology (the Golden Bough reference), and what astonishes her is that Oxford actually published it.

2 thoughts on “The Knife Goes In, But You Don’t Feel It

  1. A very interesting take on this issue, Chas. Perhaps of interest for a comparison might be Wendy Doniger’s introduction to the re-release of Mircea Eliade’s classic “Shamanism” which Princeton University Press produced back in 2004. From what I can remember, she tried to put a positive spin on Eliade’s work, while at the same time accepting that it had pretty much gone the way of James Frazer, having been tossed into the dustbin of discredited historical theories.

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