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216 × 138 × 25 mm
240 pages
76 illustrations, 57 in colour
17 Sep 2018

Sex in the World of Myth David Leeming

In Sex in the World of Myth, David Leeming argues that sex is as important in myths as it is in our lives. Myths are our cultural dreams, and sex is pervasive in all mythologies because it has obsessed and confused us like nothing else – what’s more, sexual myths, like all myths, can serve many purposes. The reproductive acts of the ancient Greek goddess Gaia perhaps reflect a pre-Olympian matriarchal social system. The 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.

Leeming demonstrates how 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 – partial answers to the nature of existence in general, and human sexuality in particular.

‘Leeming begins with a historical introduction, then typically focuses on creation myths, and finally retells selected myths in which gender or sexuality play an important role. 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.’ — Choice

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.’ — The Australian

‘Even for people who know a lot about world culture, there is bound to be something new here, and many readers will find a great deal that is informative . . . This is an entertaining and interesting read that works well for browsing.’ — Metapsychology

‘This is a highly recommended, non-judgemental survey of how throughout time we have imagined the creation of Earth and its life in terms of our own procreation.’ — Fortean Times

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David Leeming is Emeritus Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. He is the author of many books including the Oxford Companion to World Mythology (2005).

Introduction: Sex, Myth and Prehistory

1 Mesopotamia
2 Egypt
3 Canaan and Israel
4 Greece and Rome
5 India
6 Northern Europe: Celts and Norsemen
7 China and Japan
8 Sub-Saharan Africa
9 Oceania
10 The Americas

Conclusion: Sex, Myth and the World

Photo Acknowledgements