The Age of Fable | Thomas Bulfinch

  • The Age of Fable © 1855
  • The Heritage Press (with additions © 1942)
  • 369 pages

Bulfinch’s Age of Fable is a classic reference work that lives up to its reputation. The book is packed with anecdotes of deities, monsters, and heroes, some of whom I had never heard of before. Thanks to the “Index of Names”, it will be my first reference when I come across an unfamiliar character (okay, my second after Wikipedia).

The book attempted to do two things: acquaint the reader with the legends, and show how they are alluded to in poetry. While the legends were terse and informative, I found the poetry references tedious and arbitrary.

I was also confused by the scope of the book. The contents are overwhelmingly stacked toward Greek and Roman mythology, but there’s also chapters on Egyptian, Norse, and even Eastern myths. These chapters felt like unnecessary additions that didn’t do justice to their subject matter.

I should also say that my edition (I scanned my own cover, above) is beautiful. The fabric wrapping on the hardcover is embossed. The maps inside both covers are printed in two colours. Even the pages themselves are printed on high quality paper. Unfortunately, this edition isn’t in print—the link directs to a mere Dover Thrift edition.

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