First published in 1990, The Myths We Live By explores how memory and tradition are continually reshaped and recycled to make sense of the past from the standpoint of the present.
The book makes use of the rich material of recorded life stories, with examples stretching from the transient myths of contemporary Italian school children on strike, back to the family legends of classical Greece, and the traditional storytelling of Canadian Indians. The range of examples is international and together they advocate a transformed history, which actively relates subjective and objective, past and present, politics and poetry, and highlights history as a living force in the present.
The Myths We Live By will appeal to anyone interested in oral history, memory, and myth.
Table of Contents
Introduction, Raphael Samuel and Paul Thompson, Part I: The Making of Myth; 1: History and the Myth of Realism, Elizabeth Tonkin; 2: Myths in Life Stories, Jean Peneff; 3: Mythbiography in Oral History, Luisa Passerini; 4: Myths in Contemporary Oral Transmission: A Children's Strike, Rosanna Basso; Part II: Nationhood and Minorities; 5: The Anzac Legend: Exploring National Myth and Memory in Australia, Alistair Thomson; 6: William Wallace and Robert the Bruce: Life and Death of a National Myth, Marinell Ash; 7: Myth, Impotence, and Survival in the Concentration Camps, Anna Bravo, Lilia Davite, and Daniele Jalla; 8: Abraham Esau's War, 1899-1901: Martyrdom, Myth, and Folk Memory in Calvinia, South Africa, Bill Nasson; Part III: Manhood and Images of Women; 9: Free Sons of the Forest: Storytelling and the Construction of Identity Among Swedish Lumberjacks, Ella Johannson; 10: Uchronic Dreams: Working-Class Memory and Possible Worlds, Alessandro Portelli; 11: Myth as Suppression: Motherhood and the Historical Consciousness of the Women of Madrid, 1936-9, Elena Cabezali, Matilde Cuevas, and Maria Teresa Chicote; 12: Myth as a Framework for Life Stories: Athapaskan Women Making Sense of Social Change in Northern Canada, Julie Cruikshank; 13: Stories to Live By: Continuity and Change in Three Generations of Puerto Rican Women, Rina Benmayor, Blanca Vazquez, Ana Juarbe, and Celia Alvarez, Part IV: Family Stories; 14: Ancient Greek Family Tradition and Democracy: From Oral History to Myth, Rosalind Thomas; 15: The Power of Family Myths, John Byng-Hall, interviewed by Paul Thompson; 16: Changing Images of German Maids During the Inter-War Period in the Netherlands: From Trusted Help to Traitor in the Nest, Barbara Henkes; 17: Stepchildren's Memories: Myth, Understanding, and Forgiveness, Natasha Burchardt; Bibliography; Index
Raphael Samuel and Paul Thompson