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Vanderjagt, A.J. 2009, Myth in History, History in Myth, Brill,LEIDEN ,BOSTON
Sometimes, defi nitions of myth seem as elusive as the myths themselves. In 1975, the Dutch historian C.A. Tamse noted that the venerable Van Dale Dutch dictionary once defi ned myth as “a cosmogonic account; a groundless story…or an unfounded representation about a person, thing, or case which is taken as accurate.”1 At present, in 2008, the same dictionary defi nes myth as a “narrative tradition of a people concerning its religion and world-view, a story about men and gods”, and secondly as a “baseless story, a fable”. It is only in the third meaning of a “historical myth” that the defi nition as “a groundless representation of a person, thing, or case” now recurs.2 Th e diff erence in the two is subtle, yet evinces a signifi cant development in attitudes towards and understanding of the function of myths in modern society and scholarship. Tamse wrote these words in his introductory article, “Th e Political Myth” which set up a volume of conference papers by British and Dutch scholars concerned with studying the usages of history in myth. Th at conference took place at Southampton in 1973. One generation later, in 2005, a diff erent group of British, Dutch, and American scholars met in New York and considered the question of myth and history once again.
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