DescriptionMircea Eliade (1907–1986) was one of the twentieth century’s foremost students of religion and cultural environments. This book examines the emergence, function, and value of religion and myth in his work.
Nicolae Babuts, Robert Ellwood, Eric Ziolkowski, John Dadosky, Robert Segal, Mac Linscott Ricketts, Douglas Allen, and Liviu Bordaş examine Eliade’s views on the interaction between the sacred and the profane. Each explores Eliade’s phenomenological approach to the study of religion and myth. They show that modern rites of initiation, cultural activities, and spectacles like bullfighting, film, and, perhaps surprisingly, reading and writing, all harken back to the archetypal structures of the mythical imagination. Perhaps the greatest achievement of Eliade’s phenomenological approach is that it reveals what we have in common with pre-Socratic man: the mind’s structural capacity to endow objects and events with spiritual values and meanings.
As a study of Eliade’s concept of the mythic imagination, the book posits an analogy between the myths of the past and modern imitations. The authors suggest that in spite of their differences and their separate historical sources, myths represent basic structures of human consciousness. This book is essential reading for all students of religion, philosophy, and literature.
Editorial Reviews“This excellent collection of essays on myth, religion, and their dialectical relationship with history leads the readers to the core of Eliade’s thought. The essays are well researched, relevant, and readable. When compared to other recent works on Eliade, the readers will find that this book acknowledges in a most positive manner the impact of Indian influence on Eliade, which brought about major shift in his thinking. The essays, written in lucid and accessible style, provide excellent materials to promote East-West cooperation in the study of religion and philosophy.”
—Joseph G Muthuraj, United Theological College, Bangalore, India
“The various authors writing in this volume are all experts with respect to the topics discussed and, in keeping with several other recent works, collectively make a strong case for Eliade’s continuing significance for understanding the manifest and hidden dynamics of religion and culture. This is a valuable contribution to the growing effort to critically reclaim Eliade for our post-9/11 world.”
—Norman Girardot, Lehigh University
“Nicolae Babuts, author of outstanding books on cognitive approaches to European literature, has assembled experts on Mircea Eliade, the great Romanian phenomenologist of world religions, whose theories of Eternal Return and Sacred Time, myths of the Sacred and Profane, have provided a foundation for twentieth-century religious studies. Eliade's development as a novelist, thinker, and scholar is explored carefully, using many original Romanian sources, without neglecting the shadowy political past that has contributed to Eliade's recent eclipse. This excellent collection provides a lucid introduction to and an in-depth critical interpretation of Mircea Eliade, who continues to inspire seekers of spiritual unity.”
—Edward K. Kaplan, Brandeis University; author, Baudelaire's Prose Poems and Spiritual Radical; Abraham Joshua Heschel in America