MEMORIES AND VISIONS OF PARADISE: Exploring the Un by Richard Heinberg

MEMORIES AND VISIONS OF PARADISE: Exploring the Un

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A study of paradise myths from around the globe, badly marred by a lack of critical perspective. There's no doubt that Heinberg has done his homework: as an "everything you've always wanted to know" handbook on paradise, this excels. After declaring that paradise "may be the most popular and intensely meaningful idea ever to have gripped the human imagination," Heinberg demonstrates its universality, from the Hebrew Eden and Greek Golden Age to the Australian aboriginal Dreamtime. Most paradise myths feature common motifs, which Heinberg examines in detail--sacred rivers, a magic tree, a cosmic mountain, humans with miraculous powers, and, of course, a Fall. Still chugging along, he pokes at prophecies of paradise at the end of time, paradise in literature, and a thumbnail history of utopias, from More's original to Stephen Gaskin's The Farm. So far, so useful. Heinberg's own Fall comes when he attempts to interpret his material. At times he happily restates the theories of others, with little attempt to sift wheat from chaff. At other times he proffers his own view, an uncertain compromise between paradise as wispy memory of a historical Golden Age and paradise as a state of mind. Heinberg does a great job of collecting and organizing hundreds of paradise tales, but his questionable analysis garners this a permanent asterisk.

ISBN: 87477-515-9
Publisher: Tarcher/Penguin
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