Splitting the Difference: Gender and Myth in Ancient Greece and India

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University of Chicago Press, Apr 15, 1999 - Religion - 376 pages
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Hindu and Greek mythologies teem with stories of women and men who are doubled, who double themselves, who are seduced by gods doubling as mortals, whose bodies are split or divided. In Splitting the Difference, the renowned scholar of mythology Wendy Doniger recounts and compares a vast range of these tales from ancient Greece and India, with occasional recourse to more recent "double features" from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to Face/Off.

Myth, Doniger argues, responds to the complexities of the human condition by multiplying or splitting its characters into unequal parts, and these sloughed and cloven selves animate mythology's prodigious plots of sexuality and mortality. Doniger's comparisons show that ultimately differences in gender are more significant than differences in culture; Greek and Indian stories of doubled women resemble each other more than they do tales of doubled men in the same culture. In casting Hindu and Greek mythologies as shadows of each other, Doniger shows that culture is sometimes but the shadow of gender.

  

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Splitting the difference: gender and myth in ancient Greece and India

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Doniger, a distinguished professor of the history of religion at the University of Chicago and author of several previous studies of mythology, has written a perceptive and compelling new book on ... Read full review

Contents

The Shadow Sita and trie Phantom Helen
8
Indra and Ahalya Zeus and Alcmena
88
Pandora 122 Comparison Ahalya
128
How to Tell a Human
185
MariataleRenukaandScyllaCharybdis
204
Heads You Lose 225
225
Transposed Male Heads and Tales
232
Bisexual Transformations
260
Males into Females in Greece and Europe 293
293
The Shadow of Gender
303
Notes
311
Bibliography
339
Index
359
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About the author (1999)

Wendy Doniger is the Mircea Eliade Professor of the History of Religions in the Divinity School and a professor in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations and the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. She is the author of numerous books, including, most recently, The Woman Who Pretended to Be Who She Was.

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