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Familiar Mysteries Essay

Familiar Mysteries is a scientific and comprehensive study of mythology, its appearance, and significance in our lives. The author, Shirley Park Lowry, a former professor of English at the Los Angeles Valley College, teaches mythology to nonspecialists and is a respected authority on the subject. The author’s purpose in writing this book is to provide the general reader with an interesting, historically linked, and scientifically based insight into the vast world of mythology and the effects it has on our everyday lives. Shirley Park Lowry’s main message brought in this work is that mythology is not an occurrence that came into existence from itself, rather than something that we, people created ourselves in order to satisfy our own needs and fill in that empty portion of our understanding of the world that has never been able to be explained or comprehended.

Also, according to her, myths, as a whole, occupy a very significant place in our being. They serve as personal guidance in peoples’ lives, support or challenge the social order, create a sense of physical order of the surrounding, and help people accept life’s mysteries. The book is an extensive analysis of mythology and is structured into four main sections. Each section represents a different aspect of the science such as The Symbolic Language of Myth, The Hero, The Complete Home and the Monster at the Door, and Conquering Death. Each section contains a subsection that examines different cases or symbols. In The Symbolic Language of Myth, for example, water and milk are referred to as symbols representing sources of life and are separated as two subsections in the subsection Symbolizing the Sources of Life.

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On the other hand, in The Hero, the author describes the many phases and distinctive characteristics of a heros’ life span in chronological subsections. Two typical attributes of the hero, as the author points out, are Slaying Monsters and Winning Maidens and The Triumphant Return. Shirley Park Lowry carefully explains the significance of such attributes and what particular role they play in the hero’s life. The way the author has chosen to structure her book helps the ordinary reader acquire a complete understanding of the subject. The first section, The Symbolic Language of Myth, is well placed because it introduces the “alphabet” of mythology that the author later uses to bring in her ideas and explanations. Although Shirley Park Lowry uses a formal form of writing throughout her book she aims at delivering information with simple, understandable language creating an almost friendly tone of explanation.

The short, simple, and direct sentences brightly outline ideas and specific matters. From the very beginning to the end, concepts are neatly arranged and follow each other logically. An interesting fact is that the whole book is written as if a myth is being told. First ingredients and language are presented acquainting the reader with the subject. Following the hero is being exposed to all his distinctive life patterns and habits. After this the home representing the good and the monster at the door representing the evil fight against each other. The work finishes with the conquering of death. The author’s intended audience is the general reader who can easily and utterly intercept the book’s main points and ideas. It also is well written because it uses simple language to deliver the otherwise hard to perceive mythological concepts.

I personally enjoyed the book and think that it unsuccessfully introduces the reader to the world of myths. The only fact I discovered against the book is that its preface does not include anything about the author herself. We can not learn any facts about the author’s life or other works. Overall Familiar Mysteries is an excellent book on mythology directed not only to competent on the subject readers but to the ordinary, general reader. I would recommend the book to anyone who is interested in mythology or to all those people who have wonder throughout their lives where myths come from and what their purpose is.

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Familiar Mysteries Essay. (2021, Apr 01). Retrieved June 24, 2021, from