Cloth $30.00 ISBN: 9780226719269 Will Publish May 2021
E-book $30.00 Available for pre-order. ISBN: 9780226774213 Will Publish May 2021

The Modern Myths

Adventures in the Machinery of the Popular Imagination

Philip Ball

The Modern Myths

Philip Ball

368 pages | 60 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2021
Cloth $30.00 ISBN: 9780226719269 Will Publish May 2021
E-book $30.00 ISBN: 9780226774213 Will Publish May 2021
Myths are usually seen as stories from the depths of time—fun and fantastical, but no longer believed by anyone. Yet, as Philip Ball shows, we are still writing them—and still living them—today. From Robinson Crusoe and Frankenstein to Batman, many stories written in the past few centuries are commonly, perhaps glibly, called “modern myths.” But Ball argues that we should take that idea seriously. Our stories of Dracula, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and Sherlock Holmes are doing the kind of cultural work that the ancient myths once did. Through the medium of narratives that all of us know in their basic outline and which have no clear moral or resolution, these modern myths explore some of our deepest fears, dreams, and anxieties. We keep returning to these tales, reinventing them endlessly for new uses. But what are they really about, and why do we need them? What myths are still taking shape today? And what makes a story become a modern myth?

In The Modern Myths, Ball takes us on a wide-ranging tour of our collective imagination, asking what some of its most popular stories reveal about the nature of being human in the modern age.
Review Quotes
Publishers Weekly
"Ball makes a case that myths are not things of the past. Modern myths, Ball posits, are still being written and are just as crucial and revelatory as ancient ones."
Bookseller
"From acclaimed popular science writer Ball comes a fresh look at the modern legends that shape our perception of reality. Stories like Dracula, Batman, Sherlock Holmes, or Frankenstein, which we keep retelling and reimagining, are doing the kind of cultural work that ancient myths and fairy tales once did. How do they operate, and why do we need them? And what tales will come to be the new myths of the future?"
Robin Ince
“Ball always brings your attention to things that were in your field of vision all along but you just hadn't noticed. He gives you the tools to investigate and dig deeper. The Modern Myths makes the world a more thrilling place. This is a book filled with delight and curiosity that will change the way you see the stories that are all around you.”
Jeffrey J. Kripal, author of "Mutants and Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics, and the Paranormal"
The Modern Myths is a very impressive piece of writing. It is sharp. It is witty. It is deeply insightful in too many places to list. Ball’s erudition on these topics is extraordinary, really. How did he read all of this? And how did he see all of these movies? Does he sleep? A very fine study of seven really important stories in modern literature, fantasy, and film.”
For more information, or to order this book, please visit https://press.uchicago.edu
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