Reviews elsewhere on the web:
Tom Christensen
Margaret Atwood (pdf)
Opus Diaboli
Coyote Madonna

Lewis Hyde

Trickster Makes this World

The stories told in many of the cultures round the world involve a 'Trickster' figure. In Trickster Makes This World: How Disruptive Imagination Creates Culture Lewis Hyde argues that such figures play a central part in the workings of their culture.

The book has plenty of stories from different cultures illustrating the various Tricksters. There are Coyote, Loki, Raven and Hermes among many others. The book also looks at the trickster aspect of art, in particularly modern art, showing that there is art in seemingly random collections of objects. Hyde explains how the Trickster is often at the limits of morality - not evil as such, but not following the rules. Missionaries may have pronounced him to be the devil, but the culture-disrupting missionaries were often associated with the local trickster. The job of the trickster was to avoid stagnation, whether it is in a periodic carnival where the usual rules don't apply, or in making possible more permanent change. Any culture has a tricky balance between becoming too rigid and losing its influence.

Unfortunately at this point I felt the book began to get a bit lost. There's a chapter on Frederick Douglass, and how he escaped from a life of slavery, but Hyde eventually decides that he wasn't really a trickster figure so one wonders what he's doing in this book. Also there seemed to be too much of the Hermes and Apollo story. So, in summary, the book contains much of interest, but you might not feel like reading it to the end. info
Paperback 432 pages  
ISBN: 0865475369
Salesrank: 2670450
Published: 1999 North Point Press
Amazon price $7.95
Marketplace:New from $4.99:Used from $2.11
Buy from info
Paperback 432 pages  
ISBN: 0865475369
Salesrank: 2866146
Weight:0.9 lbs
Published: 1999 North Point Press
Amazon price CDN$ 28.53
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 26.58:Used from CDN$ 2.93
Buy from

Product Description
Trickster Makes This World solidifies Lewis Hyde's reputation as, in Robert Bly's words, "the most subtle, thorough, and brilliant mythologist we now have." In it, Hyde now brings to life the playful and disruptive side of human imagination as it is embodied in trickster mythology. He first revisits the old stories--Hermes in Greece, Eshu in West Africa, Krishna in India, Coyote in North America, among others--and then holds them up against the life and work of more recent creators: Picasso, Duchamp, Ginsberg, John Cage, and Frederick Douglass. Authoritative in its scholarship, loose-limbed in its style, Trickster Makes This World ranks among the great works of modern cultural criticism.