The Atlantic

The Books Briefing: Ancient Tales Make an Epic Comeback

Your weekly guide to the best in books
Source: Culture Club / Getty

The oldest stories known to humanity are also some of the most powerful. Over thousands of years, they’ve worked their way into the fabric of culture, with numerous retellings that reflect the values of the present or reveal the biases of the past. The scholar Martin Puchner shows how works such as , the very first novel in history, mark major technological and cultural milestones. A popular, an ancient Hindu epic poem about the divine prince Rama, has helped many kids understand their Indian identity—but also contains portrayals that reinforce certain prejudiced ideals.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

Related Interests

More from The Atlantic

The Atlantic11 min read
Why Everyone Should Sleep Alone
The bedroom can seem to contain the heart of a marriage. In the 2012 Judd Apatow movie This Is 40, the epicenter of marital tension is the bedroom of the onscreen couple, played by Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann. Pete and Debbie are as comely as their Los
The Atlantic3 min readPolitics
The GOP’s Witnesses Aren’t Helping Trump
If Republicans thought Kurt Volker and Timothy Morrison would bust the Democrats’ case for impeachment, they were likely disappointed by what they heard today.
The Atlantic8 min readPolitics
Trump’s White-Nationalist Vanguard
The emails of a key presidential aide show an extremist ideology influencing policy in the White House.