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Hamlet's Mill: A Essay Investigating the Origins of Human Knowledge and Its Transmission Through Myth Paperback – 1 Dec 1977

4.3 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: David R. Godine Publisher Inc; New edition edition (1 Dec. 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879232153
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879232153
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 15.1 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 316,694 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

"A book wonderful to read and startling to contemplate. If this theory is correct, both the history of science and the reinterpretation of myths have been enriched immensely." (Washington Post Book World)

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
been after this book for years and now iv'e finally got it it hasn't dissapointed
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An indispensable reference book of the origin and evolution of religion, myths and legends.
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By A Customer on 18 July 1999
Format: Paperback
This book reminds me of the cowboy who jumped on his horse and rode off in all directions. The authors try to say everything at once. By the time they inserted their twentieth appendix (each such digression full of more digressions in the footnotes), you'd think they would have considered overhauling their framework and integrating everything more smoothly. Sorry. I got tired of trying to hold onto the train of thought in the text while wading through appendices -- 39 in all. Sloppy editing here, too, because some appendices appear without any reference in the text. In revenge on such authors who fill their books with untranslated quotes in German and Latin, some day I am going to write a book full of quotes in Chinese -- in the original archaic characters, or course -- Viet Namese, and Tayal: ima maniq mami qaniy! I am somewhat perplexed by the authors' hostility to psychology and practically deliberate misreading of evolution. It is more intriguing to me to find that the same symbol is valid both psychologically and astrologically. However, the authors insist that theirs is the one and only possible interpretation. Too bad. The book focuses on astronomical events, but gives us only two hard dates, in the final pages. William Sullivan's Secret of the Incas, inspired by Hamlet's Mill, by far surpasses it in every way. If Hamlet's Mill interests you, I urge you to read Secret of the Incas, too. There, I have told you all the bad points about Hamlet's Mill. Were I asked, "Should I read this book?" I would answer unequivocally, imperitively even, Yes, absolutely yes, there's gold in these pages.
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Format: Paperback
De Santillana and Von Deschend have pieced together an amazing amount of data into an erudite and convincing piece of archaeo-astronomy. Their crusade in comparative mythology leads the reader to an understanding of ancient world myths way outside the mainstream of interpretation. I highly recommend Hamlet's Mill to anyone who is remotely serious about understanding and interpreting ancient myths, as well as grasping some of the more obscure Platonic concepts. It concludes with a dissertation that considers the differences between the current scientific observance of 'eternal progress', whereby humans endevour to master Nature, and the ancient scientific observance of 'eternal cycles', whereby humans endevoured to be one with Nature.
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Format: Paperback
There are quite a small number of books that deal with polar/axial mythology - other good ones include Geoffrey Ashe's 'The Ancient Wisdom' and Joscelyn Godwin's 'Arktos' - and this one definitely ranks with the 'essential' books in this area. The arguments for ancient knowledge of precession are convincing, if scattered, but I am perplexed at the authors' apparent hypocrisy. At the outset, they lambast scholarly 'anti-primitive' biases, saying that classical Greek sources act as an irresistable 'magnet' for mythographers; they also quote at length evidence about the sophistication of the pre-civilized African Dogon tribe. And yet by the end of the book they nominate Plato as 'grand judge and jury' on the authenticity of archaic myth, and never really manage to steer far from the 'Classical Magnet' - only a few thousand years earlier and a little to the east, in Mesopotamia. They seem unable to accept that 'pre-civilized' cultures could have originated complex astronomical myths, despite this being one of their initial arguments! And of course, they are unswervingly reductionist about myth. They reject 'geographical' and 'fertility cult' interpretations as "too simplistic", and then reduce *everything* to the revolving heavens!! All in all, very useful as a source of ideas if you're interested in this area, but it fails as a total argument.
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By A Customer on 12 Jan. 1999
Format: Paperback
If one is looking for documented back-up that the ancients of pre-history were aware of the precession of the equinoxes, and that this knowledge is embedded and encoded in world mythology, Hamlet's Mill does the job. However-- the authors seem to be of the notion that the primary purpose and interpretation of myth is to convey astronomical information. In reality, myths are the residue of ancient mystical teachings and of real events and beings of pre-history. The fairy tales of Europe, the Hindu scriptures, Sufi tales of the mystic east, Greek and Egyptian mythology all are rooted in this ancient essence, to which the authors give short shrift. If one is seeking the truth that lies behind myth--aside from the precession thing- seek elsewhere than in Hamlet's Mill, which takes a very worldly, mundane view.
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Format: Paperback
This book is an excellent starting point for anyone interested in archeo/ethno/astronomy. While there are many fine initial texts on archeoastronomy (e.g., Krupp, Williamson), this effort demonstrates the fine art and the complexity of interpretation of such manifestations relating to the myth-structures of the scrutinized cultures. Some have interpreted this effort as posing uni-modal answers (precession) to all such questions, however, the multi-vocal aspect of myth is clearly represented to those who will look carefully. Ten stars!
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