A few weeks ago at McLallen House we had a guest, a history of religion professor, who specializes in Buddhism. We had interesting conversation at the breakfast table. On a whim, I asked him,”Where does one go after reading Joseph Campbell?” He suggested Wendy Doniger’s book, The Woman Who Pretended to Be Who She Was (Myths of Self-Imitation). Doniger specializes in Hindu and cross-cultural mythology, focussing on illusion, animals, gender, etc. This is the third book in a trilogy. She explains through examples of mythology, Shakespeare and motion pictures, how intertextuality chronologically informs modern and post-modern storytelling.
Intertextuality allows us to “eavesdrop on the conversations between storytellers centuries and continents apart”….and to “observe the workings of the narrator’s art…in the transition from one genre to another”… for example “we encounter a different concept of the person, on the one hand, in myths and folk-tales, which tend to elaborate on generic types who learn but never change, and on the other hand, modern novels, which tend to dwell more on idiosyncratic individuals, who do change.”
This book is a good next step after Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces.