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Monday, 10 December 2012

The Concept of the Goddess, by Sandra Billington & Miranda Green, Reviewed.


The blurb on the back of this book suggests it’s ‘a scholarly yet highly readable study of the place of the goddess in past and present belief systems and mythologies’. As a convinced agnostic and casual student of history and myth, I thought it would be a useful book to augment my knowledge of these subjects. I was, unfortunately, disappointed.

The book is mainly an annotated list of references to other works with the occasional piece of narrative inserted to reduce the boredom: a trick that doesn’t work, by the way. Scholarly, it no doubt is. But highly readable it most certainly ain’t! It came across to me as a series of pieces by writers desperate to illustrate how well-read they are. It, perhaps, doesn’t help that there are various references and asides in untranslated Latin and some Scandinavian language I’m unable to identify, since I speak none of that collection of tongues.

Perhaps the book is intended as an introductory text for university students studying mythology; I could envisage it having a place in such course material. But, for the general reader, it appears dense, uninformative in those areas of most interest, self-congratulatory, obtuse and often plain boring.

I found myself skipping the frequent, not to say, innumerable, references in a vain attempt to find some meat. I rarely discovered anything more than the leavings of a dog-chavelled bone. In fact, I learned almost nothing, discovered very little that I didn’t already know from former reading around the subject.

I suspect you’ll deduce from the foregoing that I was unimpressed. You will be correct, Watson. I cannot, in all honesty, recommend the book.

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