Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Bulfinch wrote mythology for the masses

Theseus – Temple of Volksgartens (Vienna) Illustration from Bulfinch. Inset: Thomas Bulfinch
It is the birthday of writer Thomas Bulfinch (1796), whose Bulfinch’s Mythology (1881) made ancient mythology popularly accessible to ordinary readers, not just the well educated. The volume, published  14 years after his death, was actually a compilation of the earlier volumes, The Age of Fable, or Stories of Gods and Heroes (1855), The Age of Chivalry, or Legends of King Arthur (1858), and Legends of Charlemagne, or Romance of the Middle Ages (1863). Writer Edward Everett Hale compiled the works. Bulfinch wrote that he created his storybooks so that people could understand the allusions of lecturers, essayists, and public speakers to classic mythology.

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