By Thomas Bulfinch, Ph.D. Stephanie L. Budin Ph.D
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Extra info for Bulfinch's Mythology
The United States was to be a new Eden, and Walt Whitman saw himself (and was seen by many of his contemporaries) as its new Adam. But to see the United States as a new Eden, and to sustain one’s belief in that conception, then as now, required an act of faith. Much in the young nation’s experience would have to be ignored or denied. This new Eden came already equipped with a history, which included the European settlers’ destruction of the indigenous peoples and their enslavement of Africans. It also included the religions of the Old World, many of them imported by the American colonists.
As novels are turned into films and films novelized, they dominate box offices and best-seller lists. In fact, mythology is so pervasive in our culture that it seems as though Bulfinch was wrong to worry about it being marginalized in his time, replaced by the pragmatism of the advancing industrial society in the United States. And it almost seems as though Bulfinch had got it backward in describing mythology as a helpmate to literature. As much as myth may lead us into literature, literature today leads us into mythology, whether the shared one of the classical past or those invented in our time by mythologists like Tolkien, Eco, Lucas, and Rowling.
That would seem to be a very considerable change indeed, suggesting that either she was no longer sure how she would be received by Boston’s elite, or she was too humiliated by her losses to appear before them. These days, much would be made of the psychological damage done to mother and son by the sudden and irreversible loss of their financial and social position, but for the Bulfinches, adversity seems only to have offered them a chance to display fortitude, as well as their faith in the promise of Christian redemption.
Bulfinch's Mythology by Thomas Bulfinch, Ph.D. Stephanie L. Budin Ph.D