Tales of Darkness: The Mythology of Evil
By Robert Ellwood
Continuum, 2009

Why is there evil in the world, and how do we destroy, contain it, or live with it? Even if ultimate answers to this puzzle may elude us, the world's mythology offer numerous perspectives on what the Bible calls "the mystery of iniquity," "the abomination of desolation. . . standing where it ought not." These tales range from those involving pollution or witchcraft to initiation gone wrong, a cosmic evil power, or the need of the hero for a dragon to slay. They inculcate human responses to evil varying from dread of spiritual contamination, to the perverse awe one may feel at a rebel like Satan in Milton's Paradise Lost, or to the laughter one may enjoy at certain comic African stories at how evil and death came into the world through the bumbling of some animal messenger from God. And how does myth help us understand more recent issues, like war, terrorism, or the sinking of the Titanic? All these matters are dealt with in this book.

Robert Ellwood
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