In Sex in the World of Myth, David Leeming argues that sex is as important in myths as it is in our daily lives. Casting myths as our cultural dreams, Leeming shows that sex is pervasive in all mythologies because it has obsessed and confused us like nothing else. He reveals how sexual myths, like all myths, can have many purposes. The reproductive acts of the ancient Greek goddess Gaia, for instance, may reflect a pre-Olympian matriarchal social system, while tales of the unbridled sexual deeds of the Polynesian Maui, and many others, speak to a natural fascination with the power and mystery of sexual drives. Both a survey of the sex lives of the world’s mythological figures and their deep meaning, Sex in the World of Myth demonstrates that even when such myths are meant to elicit laughter or titillation, the participation in them of sacred heroes and deities means they are in some sense religious—tales offering us partial answers to the nature of existence in general, and of human sexuality in particular.
About the Author
David Leeming is professor emeritus of English and comparative literature at the University of Connecticut. He is coauthor of Gods, Heroes, and Kings: The Battle for Mythic Britain and the author of numerous books on mythology, including The Oxford Companion to World Mythology, Medusa: In the Mirror of Time, and The Goddess: Myths of the Great Mother, the latter two also published by Reaktion Books. He lives in Stonington, Connecticut.
"Sex in the World of Myth is destined to become a classic in its field, as searching and humane as the work of Joseph Campbell and so beautiful in its scholarship. Leeming is not merely learned but emotionally profound. Critically, he understands that lack of respect for the female is the great wound at the heart of human sexuality, and this book serves as a starting point to heal it."
— Antonella Gambotto-Burke
"The discussion of the historical diversity of attitudes toward gender and sexuality as revealed in myth is timely, and the range of cultures Leeming approaches is refreshingly wide."
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