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.
Winner of the Mythopoeic Society’s 2022 Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Myth and Fantasy Studies
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.
Published by University of Chicago Press (Spring 2021) hardback ISBN 0-226-71926-X